“Mobile and Geolocalization are the third chapter of the Internet revolution, after Search and Social,” Robert Scoble said during his keynote at Geo-Loco 2010 in San Francisco this Wednesday. Location-Based Services (LBS) are
at the peak of the hype cycle, especially with Foursquare, and we are still in the industry’s infancy.
The emergence of dozens of LBS startups has been enabled by great progress on the infrastructure side in the last few years. But according to the event’s speakers, pure geodata applications will not be relevant soon and still have to add real value: context. Real time geodata is not just a feature but something which could be tremendous when combined with information: for example, friends with location or buses with location.
In fact, the LBS landscape will soon split: the services which add really compelling experiences (Booyah with Mytown for example) and those who will provide nice back office white-label databases like Simplegeo.
Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures identified privacy as the biggest issue for the LBS startups. There is a total lack of comprehension of people's needs in term of privacy, but we want to be very careful about what we are sharing with whom. A question from the audience illustrated this: “Can you be fired if your employer knows you go to bars four times in a week?”
As always from the VC point of view, there are plenty of business opportunities for startups in this area as we will need more and more capabilities for filtering our sharing with our communities and the web.
Context and privacy are definitely the new keywords for LBS industry, as well as plenty of web and mobile businesses (ask Facebook). The question for the LBS industry is: will companies have time to develop their business before Facebook launches its own check-in feature?