Some highlights from day one of The Location Business Summit in Amsterdam.
Annette Zimmermann from Gartner began the conference with some analysis and survey results on the usage of location services.
Unsurprisingly it is expected by 2014 that a third of mobile phones in use will be smartphones – i.e. phones capable of delivering location awareness.
Symbian is the dominant operating platform but the gap with others is narrowing, a predicted 35% share in 2013 in comparison to the android platform which is on the rise and predicted to have a 20% market share by 2013.
An interesting slide on who will influence various aspects of the location business in the coming years.
In summary, Nokia and Aloqa/Foursquare are the biggest influencers on location technology; Nokia, Facebook and Google when it comes to a significant user base; and Apple on device integration and payment solutions.
Finally, some golden rules on the delivery of location services.
- duplicate anything that is already available
- rely solely on location
- require users to sign up on the website to use a mobile application
- wait for the user to search for information
- connect the user to others without their permission
David Gordon, from Intel, continued the theme of research and analysis on the current state and predictions for the future.
From a study conducted into users perspective of how much location privacy is worth (with 74 respondents) on average they would allow a mobile device to query their location every few minutes for every minute of every day for about £27 p/month.
Next up, Ed Parsons from Google with “It’s all about data, stupid!”.
First the question, Are we there yet?
Well, Ed thinks that we might be given that:
- Data plans have improved dramatically and are, almost, simple and cheap
- Mobile browsers have moved on from WAP and now deliver a web like experience
- Devices are improving with smartphones now becoming common
Another indication of progress is that the availability of GPS technology within mobile devices has increased 92% since 2009.
GPS has followed in the footsteps of the addition of cameras to mobile phones – the biggest camera manufacturer in the world is now Nokia, not Canon or Nikon.
Crucial to the success of map based services is the innovation of tools to build better base maps – gone are the days when centralised organisations with high levels of resource required long timelines to build an accurate view of the world around us.
OpenStreetMap led the way but Ed suggests this is “geeky data and not necessarily usable for commercial applications”.
Google Maps enables anyone to add new information to the base map data which is then usable via the standard API.
It also allows users to report a problem and notify the Google maps database of any changes to the underlying base map – i.e. when a bridge collapses or a new road is built.
Place = Point of Interest + Person
Essentially, “for a place to be important, people have to say that the place is important”. An important link between the location in it’s pure form and the value of that location as derived from social means.
I’m not sure this applies to the attribution of value to every location, for example, the place where I was born is of interest to me regardless of what others think, but it is good to see the social element recognised alongside the value of location information.
Gary Gale (@vicchi) from Yahoo! is next on stage to present “Hyperlocal or Hype (and Local)?”
Anyone that’s heard my thoughts on this subject before will know how much I dislike the phrase ‘hyperlocal’ so I’m looking forward to this.
Great set of introductory slides on the history of location that starts with smoke signals, through homing pigeons in 1000 BC, and into 1600 and detailed maps of the world.
1960 brought early GPS, 2000 the arrival of the smartphone, and now where next?
A hyperlocal service is something that:
- is built on entities and events defined by a community
- is intended for local people and visitors
- is normally created by a resident or visitor
Different genres of hyperlocal:
- Classic hyperlocal: Traditional media delivered through hyperlocal services
- Corporate hyperlocal: e.g. “15th avenue coffee and tea” is a re-branded Starbucks. Or the Tesco iPhone app that tells me where my nearest Tesco store is.
- Social hyperlocal: Applications such as Foursquare that create services around people sharing information.
There are different levels of localness (local, hyperlocal, microlocal) but several elephants in the room.
First, a user’s IP address is not hyperlocal and not accurate enough right now.
Second, the issue of ‘hyperlocal fakery’ where users can claim ownership over local services or claim local knowledge without any authentication or guarantee of their claim.
Third, different standards and a variety of services leading the way means different reference values to the same location.
I think this means, how can we share information across the Geoweb when we are defining the same place in different ways?
Frank Albert Coates talks through the recent advancements from Google in local mobile advertising and also mentions last week’s launch of Google’s free route navigation service to the UK.
Then an extended panel discussion on how mobile location and advertising could start delivering significant revenue streams for the industry.
Top line seems to be that there is plenty of opportunity in the mobile market, with the growth of smartphones in particular, to deliver focused local advertising that translates into real money – either in the real world or through the increasing number of transactions taking place on the mobile platform.
Scott Seaborn, Ogilvy Group, is keen to stress that too many business are looking to build iPhone apps when only 5% of businesses have a mobile version of their website.
He also talked about a book store that was losing between 12-20% of revenue from people walking into the store and buying a book from Amazon via their mobile phone.
The reason? Discovery doesn’t happen on-line. Recommendations and profile-based suggestions are targeted promotions.
Only in the real world can you truly discover something interesting in a ‘random’ fashion.
Apparently, in Japan, 87% of all flights are purchased on a mobile device, says Paul Lyonette from Microsoft Advertising. Presumably that means on mobile web services rather than simply making a phone call from a mobile.
Attention turns away from talk of money and advertising to community with Henk Hoff, board member of the Open Street Map Foundation.
He defines ‘community as fun, not work. It’s about reward, not profit. It’s about us, not me.
This illustrates the difference between community mapping in the model of OpenStreetMap and other technologies that gather user content and usage data to improve a service.
Responding to Ed Parson’s earlier “geeky” comments, Henk uses the example of the block of streets where he lives to ‘prove’ that ‘commercial’ maps are not that good with roads missing and incorrectly placed.
The point is, “geeky data” can also be useful data.
240,000 registered users have created an account to add and edit the OpenStreetMap map data – this number has doubled from the level of users last year.
Some interesting information on a forthcoming change of licensing model for organisations that use OSM maps.
Currently all use of OpenStreetMap takes place under a Creative Commons attribution and share alike license.
This has put off some companies that want to use OpenStreetMap with copyrighted datasets but don’t want, or aren’t able, to make the final product shareable in this way.
The new model – coming soon – is an open database license which allows any map produced from OSM and other datasets to be kept under full copyright if it has been implemented in the correct way.
The correct way means keeping the databases separate and implementing the different data sets as layers onto the map.
However, if a derivative database is created which augments OpenStreetMap data with an organisation’s own data, before this is implemented on the map, then this new derivative database should be made available as a data set under an equivalent free license.
At least, I hope that is correct!
Finally, ending on a massive positive, Henk showed how OpenStreetMap was used to respond very quickly to help emergency services direct the aid effort in Haiti after the recent earthquake.
And a fascinating map of the Kibera slum in Kenya where detail has been added to show the locations of places of worship and locations of water supplies.
An area that is simply a large, blank space on any other map.