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Location, Location, Location: SimpleGeo, Twitter, Flook

In my first week back on the web beat at GigaOM, one of the topics I wanted to focus on was location. Let’s just say that hasn’t exactly been a difficult task. Coming at us from Boulder, San Francisco and London, here are today’s top three geo-tagging developments:

SimpleGeo launched today, promising to build a contextual infrastructure of points and eventually polygons for the world so that people can build apps that incorporate where users are located. The company says it’s already received 600 beta inquiries in its first day out, and it also received both audience and judges’ choice accolades at the Under the Radar event where it debuted.

“We’re selling shovels at the beginning of a gold rush,” is how co-founder Matt Galligan put it on a call today. “You want to add location, just come to us — it’s done.” Though four-person SimpleGeo still measures its age in months, it already has a price sheet: free, $399/month for small businesses and $2,499/month for custom implementations. Galligan said he expects to announce a funding round soon. (BTW, this follows the launch of competitor PublicEarth, which calls itself “the wiki for places,” yesterday.)

While Boulder, Colo.-based SimpleGeo may have moved quickly in its short life, big social sites aren’t necessarily waiting for little startups to come fill their location-based needs. Today Twitter launched a geotagging API, at first only available as an opt-in feature for outside apps like Birdfeed, Seesmic Web, Foursquare, Gowalla, Twidroid and Twittelator Pro. When used, this feature associates a tweeter’s exact location (as best as it can be determined) at the time of tweeting with the tweet itslf.

And lastly, Ambient Industries debuted a social location app for the iPhone today called Flook. While there’s no lack of competition for fun iPhone apps that enable users to mark up the world, Flook is built to be quirky, easy to browse and contextual-ad ready. The basic interface consists of virtual geo-tagged “cards” with facts, photos and recommendations left at particular locations by Flook users. Users can swipe through cards and turn them over to leave comments in a jaunty orange and purple interface manned by cute little robots (see video demo above).

What’s interesting is that Flook comes from two Symbian founders, Roger Nolan and Jane Sales. Said Nolan on a call from London today, “Apple seemed to just do all the things that Symbian and Nokia should have done for a long time.” So he and Sales (they’re married) along with two other co-founders raised $1 million 1 million pounds ($1.65 million) from Eden Ventures and Amadeus Capital and founded Ambient a year ago. Flook is the company’s first project.

12 Responses to “Location, Location, Location: SimpleGeo, Twitter, Flook”

  1. Today, there were four key announcements related to location:

    1. Twitter released geotagging of tweets a feature to users and as an API for developers
    2. Facebook released ad targeting by location
    3. FourSquare opened up 50 more cities (competing with GoWalla)
    4. SimpleGeo launched a Platform-as-a-Service to build location aware apps (competing with TownMe)

    Location is the next layer for the web

    First there was content. Then there was social. Now there is location.

    In the same way that social has penetrated the core uses of the web, so will location.
    Facebook Connect is ubiquitous and is starting to influence e-commerce (Facebook marketplace powered by Oodle), question and answer (Aardvark), news (CNN), and many others.

    Location will forge the same path as social into ubiquitous use. E-commerce: find me a deal on a gray sweater close by; question and answer: restaurant recommendation; news: hyper local news, and so on.

    9% of US phones sport GPS and netbooks are shipping with location built-in, GPS units will become ubiquitous like web cams in laptops and cameras in mobile phones. As a result, users’ locations will become constantly available and be associated with all kinds of data. For example, a bar code scanning Android App, ShopSavvy, is now selling “UPC/GPS intent pairs” to advertisers.

    Control the data to maximize revenue

    The owner of users’ location data is king in this new world because the data is uniquely valuable and broadly applicable. Analyzing customer behaviors can influence decisions from where to place ads, where to place new stores, and co-visitation of stores. In short, data provides insights into where customers are and how to reach them. And this is true for almost any line of business…

    • Looking at that link – I think the app is different in that it assists 3rd parties in scraping geo-specific information together to produce location based apps.

      Flook is more like a location-based-wiki in that it is the users themselves that create the content which describes the world in any given place. The quality of the content that they place is rewarded by a Flook score in order to encourage excellent descriptions of the world around you. Mine is rubbish at the moment.

      I’m finding it quite addictive. Though it may just be the robots.