I don’t necessarily think that location-based services will be the next big thing for the mobile market, as Mark Lowenstein discusses in his short report on Fierce Wireless. At least not those that try to sell items to cell phone users.
First of all, it will take a long time for a reasonable number of cell phone users replace their devices with those with Internet and GPS-capability, as well as adopt plans with data services, and if you have a GPS-capable cell phone it doesn’t necessarily mean that the carrier will always enable it. Also, because if there are no users to “locate”, there will not be incentives for companies to invest in these applications. Another reason is that not all cell phone users may feel comfortable with these ads, which in most cases will target impulse buyers.
However, a non-commercial location-based application type that I think it could be very beneficial for its users is security functions. An example of this kind of application is “SafetyNet”, as reported about in Inside the GPS Revolution in the edition of Wired published last February (2009-02-27). The app has a map of bad neighborhoods and it goes into a “watchdog” mode if the user enters potentially dangerous locations. If something bad happens, the only thing that the user needs to do is to shake his or her device, and it will send alerts to friends and family, take a picture of the location, turn on its speaker, and dial 911.
1. Is there any location-based application that is becoming increasingly popular among cell phone users? If so, what is attracting more attention to it than others?
2. What are the main challenges for application developers when building a location-based app?