How to Fix the Pricing Problem for Location-based Services

15 Comments

Location-based services finally seem to be hitting their stride after years of promise. This year at the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive festival in Austin, Texas, several LBS startups are launching. To understand some of the costs associated with getting a user’s location information, I chatted with Sam Altman, the CEO of Loopt. Loopt is a platform that provides location information to developers building location aware services.

Altman also told me that LBS is for real this time, citing GPS chips in most phones, the carrier excitement about delivering such services, user demand and eager advertisers. A population of users who are less concerned about privacy also seems to be making the services more acceptable. Altman points out that, while he only shares his location with friends, several younger users are knowingly leaving their location information public for everyone.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8SjvtUFWy4]

15 Comments

Miguel

Carrier excitement – I believe yes, look at http://www.pocketlife.com and others. but gigaOM and loopt are right, the business model is still not very clear and still requires MS, google, qualcomm and others to concede that they cannot make too many $$$ unless they allow the startups to scale up

Jesse Kopelman

Is there really “carrier excitement” about delivering LBS? The last time I worked with a carrier on something like this, there was plenty of love of LBS as a concept but no actual desire to actually support it via 3rd party applications. This was almost 3 years ago, so maybe things have changed, but LBS has been “the next big thing” for at least 12 years now and that should tell you something . . .

Divid

Hello Stacey –

We’ve seen articles and reference to LBS being real, but whose using it? how? Qualcomm does interesting things with GPS for the fleet business, but I just don’t see how a small third party companies like Loopt, Ulocate and some of the smaller players such as Pelago would make progress unless Carriers are really opening up their network. We are not seeing any innovation apps/usage cases with LBS except for all me too friend locating stuff.

Also, you have mentioned “a population of users who are less concerned about privacy also seems to be making the services more acceptable.” That maybe true until people start doing crazy things like locate and track down their cheating spouse! Such have been a known issue outside of US and more…

Jack Wong

Hi Stacey – I heard Qualcomm and Broadcom – what was the name of the GSM partner ? Did he say SIRF ?

Thanks

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