The Wall Street Journal this morning had a short article pointing out the somewhat obvious reasons why location-based services on cell phones are still not mainstream. It also helpfully pointed out that carriers were working on it. To recap, LBS services need three main things: a way to get location (which we have thanks to GPS chips and even the ability to triangulate using Wi-Fi networks), software that can make sense of geographic information and do something with it (which are out), and cooperation between handset makers and carriers to enable developers to access such services easily.
It’s the cooperation piece that fails, but the article points to several companies such as Nokia, uLocate’s Where application and SkyHook Wireless that are attempting to bridge that gap by offering a platform that will sit between carriers and smaller developers. For example, uLocate has signed a deal with Sprint to act as the LBS platform for its WiMAX network. Smaller developers can sign on through Where and get access to WiMAX subscribers without worrying about working with Sprint or getting the location information form a provider. I suppose since we’ve waited this long for LBS, most of us can wait a little longer.
image courtesy of Where