Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 - the year of latitude


The location space is crowded. However, there is room for a location service from a provider that respects not only your privacy but also your right to your data and your right to pick and choose the services you want.

Yes, we've had foursquare which is pure entertainment and facebook (about which I should not talk too much) but as some early entrants like brightkite change focus and others like fire eagle face sunset (fire eagle was a yahoo effort), one resilient team has stayed under the radar and managed to plow through with the basics. 

I personally believe that in 2011 the soft push of google latitude continue as it is now. Perhaps we could see latitude being integrated into other google services like gmail, google voice, and youtube (probably as a labs feature which you have to opt in to) so that your status message would tell where you are or were when you logged in. Of course, there is that big thing that no one can quite put a finger on called google +1 among many other things but that is a matter of details. The gist of the matter is that latitude is growing and it might be nearing a certain level of maturity.

Now all we need is the magic powder. As I talked to a new friend who is a Chinese MBA student in the US (who uses bing, that other search engine as his default search engine in mozilla firefox, AND gmail), he explained to me that he does not have to use all the products and services that google offers and I am inclined to believe that that's the way most users are. They don't care what the latest products and services are, they just want to use technology to help them with their lives and continue living their lives. End users already have enough to deal with as it is.

In addition, this kind of modular design is a darling among technically sophisticated people. Systems designers  like to take individual components and plug them together in different ways to solve different problems. Google latitude is extensible and there is already an api in the works. Who knows what kinds of applications people will come up with to use with latitude?

With an ever increasing number of people having and actively using google login ids for various services (just as google wants), perhaps it will not be too optimistic to believe that users will not have many hurdles to use services that use google latitude. So regardless of whether you use just your android phone, google mail, google voice, google news, google reader, google calendar, google docs, youtube, et al, or any combination of the above or you just have a account for some other reason, you can keep track of your location with google latitude. Maybe you want to tell the entire world where you are exactly, or just which city you are in. Perhaps you want to share your location with a select group of people. Or it could even be that you want to just keep track of your location for yourself and "clock in" somewhere without having to worry about privacy settings every single time you request your location to be tracked.

Google latitude, you remember the name. 

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