2010 will be the year that hyper local was joined by “micro local” becoming mainstream (here’s a blog from the always good Read Write blog about recent app launches to find Supermarket products http://bit.ly/c8L37Y #lbs)
There are a whole bunch of these sorts of apps either already launched or in the works.
The life-changing impact of mobile I’ve been excited about for as long as I can remember; but the truly behaviour changing use cases have taken MUCH longer to come to fruitition than anyone with as long a tenure in the mobile industry as me can also confirm.
Things began early on though with SMS changing the way farmers in developing countries can check grain prices in nearby markets before deciding which location to sell their produce. The “cool” stuff – everything from augmented reality benefiting health care and medical practise to child security apps and context related location services (a topic close to my heart with Rummble) have taken much longer to arrive.
A combination of industry strangulation of innovation thanks to mobile operators, combined with under performing hardware and badly designed software (all three actually still featuring as a degrading force in the sector) has meant I’ve started atleast 3 companies which I misjudged and were too early to market and that meanwhile people have grown weary of being told “mobile is the next big thing” ..even investors.
Finally though, ubiquitous location technology, truly ‘smart’ phones (or Apps phones as I think they should be called) are being sucked up in growing numbers by a general public ready for the next big thing.
Take up of software or services with consumers owes as much to whether the market is ready to get their heads around a technology or not as it does to the actually technology itself. I spent over a year trying to explain what a “social network” was to everyone (let along a location based socnet on mobiles) before MySpace and Facebook came along and educated the world (I’d argue that Friendfinder educated the early adopters and the west coast, but not the world!).
So, people have used GPS for years; they’re comfortable with the idea of their device knowing their location, and “check-in” services have been a great stepping stone to allow users to feel they have complete control (although IMHO it is the more automated services like Google lattitude which represent the model of the future for location, with out interaction required by the user).
With that back drop, Micro Local services are set to eventually boom. This year sees practical early users for those for whom “mobile” is already a way of life – a fake prothetic limb to their body (I guess my friends would include me in that category).
Why search the isles in a supermarket when you can be pointed to the right place?
Let your imagination wander a little. Everything from you DHL delivery, to your pizza delivery thru girlfriend, wife, kids … a build in guide of an art gallery with a search pointing you to the exact painting you wanted to see. Trying to rearrange your stock room and wandering what happened to those widgets from warehouse C? unloading 150 shipping containers and looking for one particular item of cargo? New on an aircraft carrier with 4000 people and still getting lost? Structural engineer analysing the design for a building extension on side and wanting a representation of the entire underlying building structure in realtime? What about Google Building view, with views of the insides of buildings not just the streets?..oh hang on, Microsoft is already doing that!
Thanks to the digital equivalent of gyroscopes and clever software, these things are all possible.
What about arriving in a skyscraper to have blips on your screen of which floor and room your colleagues are in, or in a crowded club. Very Jack Bauer huh? ..micro local, it’s coming soon to a mobile screen near you.