New Offerings in Personalized Location

August 15, 2012  - By
Image: GPS World

With drive navigation nearing maturity, companies are scrambling to develop new offerings. Nokia and others are quickly building indoor mapping arsenals. We are edging closer to the LBS vision that early on defined the market: walk by a Starbucks and get a mobile coupon for a cuppa Joe. Qualcomm’s new Gimbal platform will not only speed the production of more sophisticated personalized apps, but will enable advertising that fits the immediate interests of the end user. Google wants to protect mobile advertising streams and has instituted rules to keep it consumer friendly.

Qualcomm has released Gimbal, a software developers’ kit that will help developers create personalized content, including sophisticated use of location. The platform will create a rush of apps that will utilize end users’ interests, location, and device sensors to create content that responds to an individual’s real-time situation and preferences. The industry is salivating over the type of marketing/advertising opportunities that platforms like Gimbal create. Contextual ads have been demonstrated to be much more effective than generic ads. There are uses beyond advertising, for instance, a reminder to pick up dry cleaning when in the vicinity, or bread when in a market. The Gimbal library is extensive and includes low-power, geofence-based location awareness, image recognition, privacy management, and other features.

In a move to further broaden Nokia, the company is focusing on indoor mapping and now claims more than 4,600 venues in 38 countries, a fast ramp-up from its Destination Maps launch at CTIA in 2011. These maps are more detailed than some others in the market and include escalators, floor levels, ATMs, and restrooms. Dynamic content such as movie listings, flight times, or transit schedules can be added for further value to end-users.

Nooking an LBS. As Apple and Google elbow for mapping dominance, Barnes & Noble has quietly launched maps and navigation for the Nook eReader and opened the door for location-based apps. The company is using the open-sourced OpenStreetMap database via Skobbler to enable developers to create location-based applications for the Nook. OpenStreetMap is a Wikipedia-like open source mapping project that could be the spoiler in the map race between Google and Apple. The Nook utilizes Wi-Fi, but lacks 3G, 4G, or GPS. I’m surprised that Amazon didn’t load the Kindle Fire’s Android version with Google maps.

Samsung Well Located. Leading handset maker Samsung has acquired the handset connectivity and handset location business of CSR for $310 million plus an added $34 million investment in the remaining CSR business. The details of the deal seem to indicate that Samsung has only purchased the technology license for GPS, not indoor location, said Liam Quirke of IMS Research. “If correct, this means CSR is free to sell its indoor location technology to other handset OEMs, and the reverse means that Samsung is not able to do this,” he adds. This is another move by Samsung to vertically integrate its business to cut costs.

CSR acquired Sirf Technology, a pioneer of commercial GPS technology, in 2009. Kanwar Chadha, founder of Sirf and a leader at CSR, has resigned. Chadha has been a cheerleader and visionary for the location industry.

Buy a $60 Massage for $30? Nokia is integrating Groupon daily deals into Windows Lumia device series. Users searching Nokia maps will be shown relevant deals alongside traditional search results. Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system overhaul will install Nokia Maps as the default mapping experience. “Scale is critical to our growth,” says Michael Halbherr of Nokia. “That’s why the horizontal nature of the Windows Phone deal is critical.”

Ads that Leave a Bad Taste. Google is trying to rein in the most annoying and sometimes deceptive mobile advertising. Android apps available in the Google Play marketplace will need to follow new rules. The company has introduced stringent new mobile advertising restrictions as well as clarified payment, subscription billing, and spam policies. The new rules aim to stop misleading notifications or warnings that impersonate system notifications. The regulations also target apps that make changes to the functioning of the user’s device, outside of the advertisement. Google ads that force a user to click on ads or submit personal information for advertising purposes is strictly prohibited, and Google states that consumers must be able to dismiss an ad without penalty.

Not First to Know. Did you get the “Mitt’s VP” app so you’d know his choice before the media? “Mitt’s VP” smartphone app for iOS and Android promised to be the first place Romney would publicly announce his selection, but a news leak spilled the beans.  The Romney campaign hoped the app would recover a stronger mobile presence after the release of “With Mitt” in May went awry. “With Mitt” contained an unfortunate typo that promised, “A Better Amercia.” An immigration issue?

Save the Date. I’ll be moderating a panel debate, “Opening up the Indoors for Location Services,” at MforMobile’s Location Business Summit 2012, being held in San Jose October 16-17. TheWhereBusiness and NFC Insight are now MforMobile.


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