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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where Am I Now ?

In the fight for Social Geolocation supremacy, how many more applications can we take ?  It's getting out of hand and pretty soon we'll have more GPS tracking apps than we'll know what to do with.  This year they've rocketed. But where's it all heading and where will it end ?

Let's see if I can summarise where we're at.  These are the big players (alphabetically) in the market so far.


iPhone App Android App Blackberry App Virtual Rewards Real World Rewards
Foursquare Yes Yes Yes Yes Some
Facebook Yes Yes Not Yet No No
Geomium Yes Not Yet Not Yet No Some
Google Latitude Web Web Web No No
Gowalla Yes Yes Not Yet Yes No
Twitter Yes Yes Yes No No

As you can see they all have differing levels of functionality even if they are trying to do basically the same sort of thing.  Foursquare and Twitter tend to stand out because they're readily available across all of the main mobile platforms.  Google Latitude isn't far behind with a clean web interface, but there's no checkin-in with Latitude. It's on or off.

So are any of these actually any use to the users aside from being a bit of fun?

Well, there are some "Real World Rewards" available from Foursquare and Geomium highlights local deals to your current position, but ultimately they are a bit "gamey". There's not really any killer functionality that makes them a must have app.  I'm not suggesting they're a complete waste of time, they just haven't found their place yet. I still think they will.

One of the largest inhibitors is not knowing who you're sharing your location information with and this feeds a basic level of paranoia among many people. In some cases rightly so.  You only have to have followed the news concerning http://pleaserobme.com/ to understand how this stuff can get out of hand. If you missed it, you can go back in time here.

Obvioulsy the answer is like anything else. Be aware of what you're doing.  You don't go to some strange city in the middle of the night and hand out pieces of paper with your bank details on do you ?  So why would you go online and tell complete strangers where you are at this precise moment ?  Share with your friends by all means. But if you're an idiot, you'll still get yourself into trouble at some point. You only have to have read a handfull of lamebook.com pages to know that.

I could foresee a time when these guys all end up merge into one big social network (probably called SocNet, or worse still - "Blue Banana" - or something equally inane) where we have bits of Facebook, geo-locationary statuses and micro-blogging all in one clean application that works on every platform. You'll even be able to neatly segregate colleagues, celebs, family, friends, romans, countrymen... lend me your e- ... sorry. Got carried away there. But you get the point. Each of these groups will be able to be kept separate in the Blue Banana world, to save you from yourself.

Will it ever happen?  Not this month.  Ask again in November. That's how quickly it changes.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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