Yesterday Chris Brogan had an interesting blog post sharing his take on the state of LBS and what it will need to take it to the next level.  As a noted and respected voice in the areas of new media communication and social networking, Chris points out what he considers to be current limitation of LBS technology application and also identifies some things he thinks would add value to the the LBS offering to consumers.  For the record, I would agree that LBS is in its infancy, that its value to the average consumer is pretty limited.  Recent studies have show that the uptake of LBS applications is limited to a small, keen segment of the population but others suggest it is growing. Having said that, I also believe there is great potential for growth in LBS application development.

Key value adds today:

  • Proximity.  Identify your location to business, provide you with real time updates on information such as local traffic and weather.
  • Navigation.  Plan your route, obtain real time directions.

Some new interesting developments:

  • Geofencing.  An extension of proximity capability to define a region of interest around your current location or some fixed point. Applications might be to monitor the movement of a known object (like your kids or a pet?), identify businesses within some limit of my current location (barbers within three blocks).  In his post Chris Brogan refers to this as an identity register.
  • M2M. Machine to machine technologies are emerging in a wide array of b2b markets it will be interesting to see how effectively these can be extended to a consumer market.

Some things that would take LBS to the next level:

Chris Brogan also mentioned temporary groups and commerce capability as important enhancements to the LBS experience.

From my perspective I see analytics as being another important enhancement both from a business and consumer perspective.

Challenging issues:

LBS applications are dependent on content.  To the extent that it is available, applications with flourish or remain marginal.  For instance, if I want to know the barbers in a three block radius of my current location, how many of the existing barbers are actually discoverable?  Obviously those that are, will benefit from the application but if I perceive the information content presented to me is incomplete my confidence in the LBS application will lag.

The other side of the content coin is information privacy.  An issue not limited to the world of LBS applications, the question of protecting information a user considers private (such as current or past location) is an important one. The idea of temporary groups may be one way of addressing privacy concerns.

Those are a few of my thoughts.   Let me know what you think.