Location Based Services – Will They Take Off or Not?

scatesWith the recent release of the second iPhone, called iPhone 3G, and it’s inclusion of a GPS chip, a new group of consumers are becoming aware of the perceived value of Location Based Services (or LBS). Also called location aware applications, these services give you targeted information based on where you are currently located. For example, a social network could tell you that your friends are at the bar next door, prompting you go to hang out with them. Alternatively, a location aware traffic program on a mobile phone could alert you that you’re going into an area with insane traffic and would cause you to be able to choose an alternative route.

Location aware applications are not new, despite the United States recently becoming conscience of them. In the Mobile field, we often look to Asia and Europe as their environments make then a few years ahead of the US when it comes to mobile adoption. As Jason Grigsby points out, LBS hasn’t exactly caught on in these markets.

Why not? Could it be that the right applications have yet come along to make users flock to location based services?

creepyI feel the creepiness factor is just too much with LBS. Who controls who can see your location? How do we know we won’t have annoying ads served to us that creep us out?

I use Google Maps on a regular basis because it knows where I am and allows me to search for local pizza place and shows me valuable traffic information. I predict these types of location aware applications will thrive with the iPhone and in the mobile world, but socially based ones will wither away and die when the newness wears off. I’ll use a LBS only when I’m interacting with a service or company that I know and have relative trust with. For now, new fangled Web 2.0 services will never know my GPS locale.

What are your thoughts – will you use location aware applications and services?  Are you worried about privacy?

(Mr. Burns image credit: fabbriciuse, skating picture courtesy The Flooz)