It has been a while since my last post. Launching a new product line was a tough and demanding task. Nevertheless the break gave me the time to look through a new perspective at the information I was putting together.
Almost 100 Location Based Social Networks after, we start to see the inevitable: consolidation and closings. More interesting, companies are trying to license the accumulated knowledge, without yet finding an appropriate business model to survive. We are still at the same starting point where developers struggle to understand how to migrate applications from Web2.0 environments to the mobile world.
To be or not to be
If we take a look back to my previous notes, one possible conclusion is that for an isolated company it’s almost impossible to succeed in this market. There are many obstacles that need to be solved even before they can try to implement the excellent idea that they have in mind. How are they going to get the location data? How to approach carriers minimizing fees? How to get information from mobile devices without GPS? How to overcome the difference of data between carriers, or even different handsets? and many other.
The good news is that location services are becoming a must. The question is how can we facilitate the go to market process of a carrier/handset agnostic solution without solving again the same problems other 100 companies already solved.
To aggregate or to facilitate that’s the question
In the beginning it was a map – latitude and longitude (a street map of Miami).
Now we add 5 restaurants in the block and by adding data or content to the map the result is Location Based Information.
Now we add context – 2 are Mexican restaurants, 2 are Italian and 1 is Chinese, all of them offer lunch and all close at 9PM. On top we add collaboration – reviews, recommendations, pictures, experiences, etc. now we have created value. If we can share that value and each one use it according to their needs and giving back to the system, we created Sustainable Location Based Intelligence.
We can extrapolate this to any other type of information; weather, news, traffic, advertising, 411, etc.
Now think of a platform that solves all your development and logistics problems, i.e. handsets OS, carrier fees, mapping interfaces and licenses, etc. In exchange you have to share your data, and benefit from other’s contributions. The key is participation and the challenge is to create an open platform where developers can craft on the fly partnerships, and help in building the functional building block that will put together that 13.3 billion dollar market that everybody is talking about. We can call it a Location Based Democracy.
Think of it as a solar system, where each one is moving in its own orbit, some have 1 or more moons revolving around, and all contribute to the mutual equilibrium. In business terms, creating this ecosystem will allow many companies to make a living, establishing micro-LBS-business around others without worrying about reinventing the wheel again and again rather unleashing the real value of “location base contextual valuable information”.
Give them the help and the technology to build cheap cars, and install toll booths
So why will somebody take the responsibility to create this? In the democracy of location based data somebody has to take the initiative to lead. Nobody wins from the chaos, and I believe it’s in everybody’s interest to keep it a “democracy”. It is a give and take game. So what are you ready to give away and what are the core assets you will keep for your company?
And at the end we come back again to the same question “What is the business model?” Is it revenue sharing? Is it success sharing? What is proper compensation for each party? Where is the money? In this case I’ll say “Take a closer look… It’s all over the map.”