Location Awareness is next

Location Aware appsWith SXSW Interactive just days away, excitement is already in the air for what will come from the groundbreaking technology festival. My money is on location aware apps.

As you know, I decided not attend this year, so I can focus on my new consulting business. However, that does not mean that I will be turning a blind eye to SXSW – far from it!

In previous years location based applications like Brightkite (defunct), foursquare, and Gowalla (acquired by Facebook) have rocked SXSW with their popular check-in services. Location has always been a hot thing in March in Austin.

Location Awareness is Next

This year it will be iPhone (and Android) applications like Highlight, Glancee, Sonar, and Kismet, who will be fighting the war for our attention.

Each take a slightly different approach to location-aware apps, but all are similar in that they tell YOU when your friends (and their friends) are near.

In the past it has always been US who had to check-in first to let our friends know where we were. Walking down 6th Street during SXSW and checking Foursquare to see who’s in which bar or restaurant has paid off. It’s the perfect way to connect with with people you may otherwise miss.

Permission Based Stalking

Back in 2007, Mitch Joel called Twitter “permission-based stalking“. He was right, but location aware apps take this idea a whole lot further. Now are phones are checking in for us, something similar to Yahoo’s Fire Eagle back in 2006.

Let’s be clear, when we’re speaking about “popularity” it’s important to consider that it’s still early days for older services like foursquare. In December a study found only 5% of Americans were using foursquare. Note though, that if you’re a marketer, it may be that 5% who you are trying to target. Also consider it’s worldwide adoption.

If the digiterati lovingly adopt these new location aware apps, you can bet they will slowly find their ways on to regular consumer’s smartphones too. How many and how quickly is too early to tell.

What do you think location based applications? Creepy or cool? Leave a comment below too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.