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GPS the New Social Network?

by atina 2010-03-22 17:35

This year’s SXSW festival featured great bands and music from all over the country also showcased the latest in location-based social network outlets. Major names like Foursquare and Gowalla along with some other startups were all their sharing their ideas about combining GPS devices and social networking systems making it into a fun and sometimes useful application on most hand helds.

Some location-based social networks are already popular such as Loopt – which has over a million users – Facebook, Google have developed their own version and even Apple has a hand in the pie with iGroup. The social-networking service that uses geographic location data to connect iPhone and other mobile-device users. iGroups would let friend groups attending an event to stay in touch and share information in real time. While Google’s Latitude app, similar to iGroup, lets user broadcast their locations to friends.

If that sounds familiar it's because similar geolocation apps that accomplish the same thing are popping up more frequently—apps and networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, Loopt, and others.

In a recent article on TechCrunch, one of the founders of SimpleGeo, a geolocation based company, stated the current trend as a “burgeoning gold rush.” The article continues to state that “[l]ocation is in a similar position as social was in 2001.”

To compare this new form of GPS networking to social media outlets maybe going a bit too far. On the one hand, location apps are limiting. Location based apps are only useful in pedestrian friendly cities. To “check in” at a bar that involved a 30 minute drive to get there looses the real time value of some of these application. As for those who do live in walking cities the challenge will be which of these many services popping up will they choose to be their personal GPS spotlight.


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