Location-based services: are they there yet?

We look at Facebook, Foursquare, Google Latitude and Yelp to see how their mobile location-based services have prospered -- or not.

By , Computerworld |  Mobile & Wireless, Facebook, Foursquare

"If you're scoring at home, Foursquare claims to have "tens of millions" of tips," wrote marketing and SEO expert Matt McGee on his blog in January. "Yelp has somewhere around 22-23 million reviews, as I understand, and Google has somewhere in the neighborhood of 13-15 million reviews and ratings combined... I'd say that the game is on in local search."

Foursquare also has a list capability that was implemented last August. A list lets a Foursquare user build a group of businesses that they prefer to frequent, such as "my favorite restaurants" or "10 great independent bookstores." By sharing these lists with friends, Foursquare users can share their interests and favorites in larger chunks of information.

But end-users aren't the only ones that can benefit from lists. Businesses can also create branded compilations that can bring customers directly into their door, as well as deliver their brand in other ways.

Foursquare is clearly the one to beat in this space.

Google Latitude

Compared to Facebook and the other LBSes, Latitude's story seems more like a confusing labyrinth.

Google Latitude

It was originally built by the same folks who created the Dodgeball geo-location service, which Google bought in 2005. (Eventually, the two Dodgeball founders left Google under less-than-ideal circumstances.) One of the Dodgeball creators, Dennis Crowley, would go on to found Foursquare after Google halted Dodgeball in 2009 and replaced it with Latitude.

The Google Latitude service is an add-on to Google Maps that allows mobile phone users to let specified Google account members know where they are. The location can appear on, say, Google Plus as a status update, or can be viewed on an iGoogle home page in case a loved one wants to see where you are at any given moment. The service also features automated check-ins and departures, and deals. Android users of Google Latitude recently got the ability to see a check-ins leaderboard, which let them see other users who are checking in at that particular business.

Google far and away has the best and broadest reach of any of its LBS competitors to get advertising connected with geolocation.

Up and coming LBSs

There are other, less well-known location-based services for mobile devices out there. Here are a few that definitely bear watching:


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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