The last two weeks I have selected two polar opposite articles for my Pick-Of-The-Week on the topic of Social, Local, Mobile and geolocation. The point was to not only point out the possibilities of location-based applications but also the slippery slope we are potentially headed down.
Let’s start with the positive. After watching the video from Placeme founder Sam Liang, I decided to give the application a try on my iPhone. What did I learn from tracking my location over the last 2 weeks? That I lead a boring life and essentially leave my house, go to work and come home at night! So at the lowest level it helps me track my expenses knowing where I have been over the last week. That being said, the application concept does intrigue me. On the weekend, when I did more than just go to and from work, I found myself visiting different locations like retail outlets that Placeme was able to identify without explicitly checking in. But I found the value falling a bit short. Where I see the value that Placeme, or other services like, providing is linking my actual activities at a location. For example, Placeme could provide me my purchasing habits at a grocery store as soon as I enter that location. This can either be how the Placeme app evolves or it becomes the infrastructure to other mobile applications. The big need is that as a consumer I want all the location data to be tied to my activities from my apps. Think of all the data that could be tied together and served up as personal analytics or personalized intelligence?
So what is the downside? Giving up control. As much as Placeme tells me that it is keeping my data private, I still have put my trust in that this information will be kept private. Other companies have not been so forthright or are exploiting location services. Applications like “Girls Around Me” (i.e. Stalker Apps) or the recent article about technology from Navizon that can track users through their phones and wifi devices are exposing us either explicitly with our knowledge or implicitly without our knowledge.
Location is certainly here to stay and will only evolve to become more powerful and drive value to consumers. But as consumers we need to understand what we give up and expose ourselves to.