Location Still Matters July 21, 2011Posted by Peter Varhol in Software platforms, Technology and Culture.
One of the things the Internet Age was going to do for us is free us from the tyranny of being in a set physical location. To a limited extent, that ideal has been realized. I work out of my home, and communicate easily with people all over the world.
But oddly enough, it seems that physical location has become much more important in many ways. FourSquare and similar location-aware social media startups seem to be making an Internet business out of it, although how I’m not really sure.
It turns out that much of our focus on location comes from traditional brick-and-mortar advertisers, who would like to target potential customers in the proximity of their place of business. These places still need to match potential customers with their products or services.
And that’s why both Microsoft and Apple are interested in working with a company that’s only a few weeks old. That company, Gigwalk, is at the forefront of what the pundits are calling “crowd commerce,” a way of hiring large numbers of people for very specific location-based tasks. Gigwalk has an iPhone app that lets a company in need of location-based information (“confirm intersection turning rules and provide photographic evidence”) place the request in a marketplace and have someone near that location carry out that task.
I have to admit that the Gigwalk concept is innovative and seems well-executed. But location-based services in general are a leverage of technology in support of existing businesses employing advertising. Not really a lot new and innovative there. They aren’t transforming how we live or work; rather, they’re focusing the same old business models. I think we can do better.