Location Based Services Becoming Real: Nokia Acquires Plazes

The notion behind social location based services is fantastic. For example, depending where you are, an application that knows your location and the locations of your friends alerts you all to each other’s presence Plazesand good times ensue. This is the idea behind Plazes, a German start-up that allows users to plan, record, and share their social activities.

There are two areas of concern I have with services like Plazes (along with Loopt and Whrrl). I love the concept behind these services, however, who’s addressing the privacy concerns? For example, I use Brightkite and have added a few friends, but I have declined the opportunity to advertise my Brightkite status on Twitter. I don’t want everyone in my twitter stream to know my exact location for privacy reasons.

Also, before the Nokia acquisition, what revenue model did Plazes have? My only guess is that after enough people signed up for Plazes, contextual ads could be served that are location-aware.

Nokia is the clear winner here, as they are adding 13 smart developers to their Services and Software unit. Perhaps the new team can help add some social aspects to the useful Nokia Maps Application. Nokia has been delivering some great mobile applications that utilize location and GPS data as of late, so I’m very anxious to see how the Plazes team is positioned within the company and future offerings.

Maps is great for finding your way with basic GPS functions but could definintely use some social features. Especially with a GPS-enabled iPhone coming out soon and all the applications that will utilize its new hardware stack. Because, like I said on GigaOm a while back, feature-packed phones are useless unless they are tied into our daily lives with useful software and services.