It’s clear that location is an opportunity ready for its time, but making technology smarter by knowing where we are needs to happen as part of a platform, not be an end unto itself. That’s why I found — and I think many entrepreneurs, developers and investors will find — Phil Hendrix’s new report for GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d) particularly useful. There’s a lot going on here and it’s helpful to get all the pieces in one place.
“Location: The Epicenter of Mobile Innovation in 2010” is immr founder Hendrix’ 56-page primer on the space.
And here are some of his takeaways I found most interesting (all direct quotes from the report):
* Tectonic shifts are (i) making geodata “free”; (ii) improving the level of detail and accuracy of geodata; and (iii) enhancing the variety, richness and usefulness of maps and geodata. Efforts by Google, OpenStreetMap and other new players are expanding access to low-cost, even free, geodata while crowd sourcing and other efforts are simultaneously increasing accuracy, detail and fidelity.
* Given its ease of use and intuitiveness, one application in particular — Visual Search — will soon come to dominate search on mobile devices.
* Although bar codes are commonly associated with buying products, the potential applications of bar codes and QR codes are wide ranging…The open-source model is likely to win out over the closed, publisher-managed model.
* Automatic geotagging will (i) rapidly increase the frequency with which users add “location” to their social data; (ii) dramatically expand the volume of location-specific information produced; and (iii) intensify the need and create significant new opportunities for solutions that help individuals filter, find, access and leverage timely, location-specific content.
* Policies and standards for handling disclosure and location information, interoperable solution and even “privacy setting aggregators” are an urgent need.
* Recognizing the significant window of opportunity, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple are competing to be the dominant provider of location-based assets. With its ability to offer location-based services — including location-determination, visual and proximity search and others — “for free,” offsetting the cost through advertising and other revenue sources, Google is uniquely positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities.