Mobilize ’10: Geolocation for Hailing Cabs and Sky Gazing

I’m at GigaOm’s Mobilize ’10 conference today, where Skyhook Wireless CEO Ted Morgan joined a procession of morning presentations to espouse the collision of mobile, social and local.

Geolocation is clearly a hot area but not a new topic — something that Morgan acknowledged off the bat. It will soon be a key component of nearly every mobile product developed … not the shiny new thing but more like the plumbing.

“Location is a key part of mobile,” he said. “Let’s just all agree on that so we can move on and start looking at all of the other things being done with it.”

A recent IDC poll showed that geolocation ranks fifth among capabilities preferred by mobile app developers. Social media followed closely behind, as the combination of the two continues to evolve into its own hybrid animal.

“When you look at the social mobile products, many are defined by connecting, sharing, commenting and ranking,” he said. “Layer location underneath it and it gets very interesting.”

A laundry list of cool examples in different verticals followed. The MLB app detects when users are at a ball park in order to offer deals trivia, and connections to other fans.

FareShare lets you find people around you who might want to share a cab. These social elements breed longevity, he asserted, in an area (apps) where usage can drop off quickly.

“It brings you back to the app,” he said, “and develops a viral effect where users become more loyal, talk about and use it more.”

But not to be too analytical with something that’s supposed to be fun, there are also apps that are quirky, yet indicative of what’s possible.

Fusing augmented reality, geolocation and flight tracking, an app called Plane Finder AR lets you point your viewfinder up to see flight info and destinations of all the planes in the sky.

“I don’t know the exact purpose of this,” said Morgan. “But tell me you’re not going to try it.”

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