T-Mo adds a family check-in service; will people pay?


T-Mobile added a new family locator service to its suite of carrier-specific Android apps on Tuesday. Owners of T-Mobile handsets will now find FamilyWhere, powered by Location Labs’ Safely software, in the T-Mobile section of the Android Market on their smartphones. With Safely installed, family members can find each other from their phone or a browser, even if the other family phones aren’t equipped with a GPS radio.

Safely has proven to be a popular people-locator solution, so T-Mobile isn’t partnering with an unproven startup.¬†Coinciding¬†with the T-Mobile news, Location Labs announced its Safely service has now returned one billion premium “locates” on top-tier U.S. carriers. And by premium, it means paying subscribers: T-Mobile customers can use Safely free for 30 days, but after that, it’s $9.99 per month for up to 10 devices on an account.

Clearly, a billion location requests is a huge milestone; location services are becoming more important as a growing number of people, including kids, are making smartphones central to their lives. And without an iPhone, T-Mobile has no free “Find My Friends” iOS app. I do wonder, however, how many paying FamilyWhere subscribers T-Mobile will pickup when Life360 offers the same type of service for free and has been growing like gangbusters.

Regardless of sign-ups, this is another example of carriers trying to add value services: a growing trend as they hope to avoid becoming fast, dumb pipes.

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