Over the last decade many companies have attempted to dominate Location Based Services using many different approaches. From Google to Nokia to Garmin to Loopt to FourSquare , there has been no shortage of smart minds trying to figure out the magic formula which will drive adoption of their location based services (LBS). A few months ago Google began offering free navigation on Motorola’s Droid smartphone in North America. Nokia made a bigger move by making maps and turn-by-turn navigation free for 180 countries on its smart phones. Tech Crunch reported that Loopt’s new app will start pushing check-in using a new app and Facebook. All of that is good but not enough for any one player to win the LBS race.
Twitter holds the ace here. As is well-known, Twitter has been working on location based APIs and the acquisition of MixerLabs was part of Twitter’s strategy to use its swift rise in popularity to push for LBS adoption.
Twitter has a lot going for it. With a large user base which is ready and willing to adopt simple and useful LBS, Twitter can drive massive adoption – all based on simple concept of location-aware tweets. The prize here is the attractive local business services and advertising market. This is the market that companies like Yelp and Google had their eyes on for a long time.
A few days ago Twitter rolled out Trending Topics by Location (City). This provided another data point about Twitter’s plans to dominate location based services. In a post “Why Twitter Wants to Know Where You Are“, Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable points to 4 steps that Twitter has taken over the last few months to expand its location aware capabilities.
1. Introduction of Location-Aware Tweets
2. Developer Access to Local Trends
3. Mixer Labs Acquisition (GeoAPI)
4. Local Trends Rollout
Van Grove rightly points out that location data will provide Twitter with a number of advantages over others who have not been able to leverage LBS. Whether Twitter uses local ads, promotes local business services or provides some interesting service like event popularity at a given time or faster customer issue resolution, this is the best opportunity of making location a useful and commercially viable service at massive scale. What do you think, will Twitter capitalize on this opportunity or will this be just another failed attempt at LBS?