The half-life of an LBS app..

Is around 5 years ??

Well I would estimate that is the case from the imminent closure of Plazes, one of the earliest Location Sharing applications developed back in 2004.

I used Plazes on and off for a few years starting on my first real smartphone the Nokia N95 and for a while it powered the Where Ed function on this blog. Plazes was acquired by Nokia in 2008 and it’s technology was rolled into the ovi platform, although continued as a stand-alone service.

This week Nokia announced the closure of the service, offering users the ability to download and export their location history. This is an important step and one which Nokia should be commended for, your location data is your data and in the spirit of data liberation you should be able to take it with you wherever you want to go..

So why is plazes closing, my personal view is that location sharing as a discrete service is just not that compelling, your location is a useful piece of contextual information whose real value comes from it’s integration with other personal data.

Knowing I’m currently in Calgary, Alberta is interesting..

Knowing I’m in Calgary, it’s 5pm, I’m flying out to San Francisco at 9pm, it’s raining and there is a Tim Hortons my favourite Coffee Shop on the quickest route based on the current traffic conditions is actually valuable.

Written and submitted from the GeoAlberta Conference (51.059N, 113.979W)

10 replies on “The half-life of an LBS app..”

Location sharing only seems to have gained any traction with non-geo-geeks on Facebook. I’ve never been able to persuade any of my ‘real’ friends to use Foursquare etc.

I always thought you were a Starbucks guy Ed? I’ve always liked Tim Horton’s ‘cos it’s cheap, cheerful and I can remember the 1st part of the name πŸ™‚

I think you are right in regards to mainstream check-ins, as for Tim Hortons when in Rome..

I disagree fairly fundamentally πŸ˜‰ – but you’d expect me to say that.
The sentence “location sharing as a discrete service is just not that compelling, your location is a useful piece of contextual information whose real value comes from it’s integration with other personal data.” is relevant only in the most literal sense.

i.e. one way sharing when you are proactively broadcasting or PUSHing your data to someone else.

But that’s location sharing viewed in an ass backward way because it’s location sharing without social context. Social search carries an intent. Consider a movie schedule.

If a cinema broadcast to me the schedule of this afternoons movie I would think it entirely irrelevant…UNLESS…of course – I actually wanted to go and see a movie this afternoon and I needed to know the times.

My point being that your location is EXTREMELY relevant and important to me not because I give a hoot about Tim Horton’s (although I do like their Soup + Bagel deal) but because if I want to know where you are…guess what? I have social intent context.

No amount of sharing context (i.e. PUSHing) on your end – gives me intent.
Intent is driven by me PULLing.
Nowhere is this more relevant than in the geo-space.

That’s why fixing Geo-social search requires solutions that are based around simplifying that PULL – as opposed to increasing the depth of context of the push. Which is why (and yes you can see this coming a mile away)

echoecho + zagat + google maps is far more compelling than latitude πŸ˜‰

Nick, i think you are actually supporting my view which ok was maybe literal but that’s the point.. A location on its own without context provided by social, environmental information is not useful. Echo-echo is as you say as much about the users intent expressed by a ping request as location.

Congrats on the latest funding round btw !

Well, that may be the case for Plazes, but it seems there are a dozen new location sharing, friend finding, spatial stalking, place snooping and hyper local social discovery apps raising millions in new investment every day to replace them.

True, but most are doing more than just location sharing, Plazes was the recipient of VC funding also..

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