Forget Fart Apps — the Sweet-Smelling Growth Is in LBS

pubI’ve been saying for some time that we’re in the midst of a growing trend for location-based services (LBS) and Om points out the actual growth numbers in terms of iPhone apps that use them. Growth in iPhone apps using LBS has increased four-fold in just the past six months. What started with accessing data nearly anywhere as morphed into providing our social networks with text updates first, then real-time pics and videos and now with offering our location while we “fart” and Tweet  all around the town.

I actually can’t remember the last time I entered in my location to get useful data like local weather, movie times or restaurant choices. Thanks to companies like Skyhook Wireless (although I wouldn’t count out Google (s GOOG) in this space), my handset already knows my general location, even without GPS in my first-generation iPhone. We often say that the best tools we use are the ones that don’t get in our way. The rise of location-based services, when paired with the right hardware and apps, make the services invisible but extremely useful.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all in the next year or so to see more GPS radios integrated in devices that we don’t carry around all the time. Handsets were the “low-hanging fruit” since they’re generally always with us. That’s the perfect use case for a location-based system. But there’s plenty of room, and desire” to use LBS with those “once in a while” devices too. Many laptops, netbooks and notebooks are already equipped for location awareness. Cameras are an easy target, too: Pairing the location data with a photo is handy and useful. It might also be overkill. But in five years, we just might see more devices with LBS than without them. Thoughts?