Wondering where the world’s largest artichoke is? Not really (it’s 78.5 miles from me). What about the closest brewery? Well, that’s a little closer to the mark and only 3 miles away. You can find a dozen purely novel and occasionally useful mobile location based services like these from a new mobile GPS-based application called WHERE from startup uLocate.
The Massachusetts-based company founded in 2003 is doing a public push of its application today. The downloadable application costs $3 per month and is available on some Sprint handsets such as the RAZR and the Sanyo Katana. Of course the “Find the nearest Sprint store,” is one of the more boring look-ups, but maybe helpful if your phone crashes while in use.
uLocate is calling WHERE a platform for mobile LBS widgets because you can personalize which services you choose to use on your cell phone and you can use the Where.com website to drag-and-drop new services to your phone.
Some of the widgets like Zillow’s Zestimates, or find State Parks don’t seem to be that useful for the GPS function, but other ones like local weather or directions are more GPS intensive. The most interesting thing about the platform is not necessarily the widgets that are available now, but the fact that the company has a developer program, which it is also anouncing today. The developer program helps third party publishers create their own LBS applications. That is actually pretty cool.
uLocate is the application creator behind Helio’s Buddy Beacon and MapQuest Find Me. The company is venture backed by Kodiak Venture Partners and GrandBanks Capital but for some reason won’t disclose the entire amount of funding it has raised — only that it received $4.5 million in a second round of funding in September of 2004.
Mobile LBS is one of the most over hyped mobile markets around, but I also think the service at $3 per month is priced accordingly for what you get.