Posted by: hmchang | November 29, 2007

Gadgets: “My Location” feature for Google Map Mobile

Google has My Location for Google Map Mobile this week, and this is the video they showed on their website:

Using cell phone to locate ones’ position is not a new idea for most engineers. One of the problems as compared to GPS is the accuracy. According to the video on InforamtionWeek, the accuracy is within 220m and the figure on CNET shows that the accuracy is within 300m. If the accuracy is not correct, who is going to use it and how will Google generate revenue from it?

The article (in Chinese) from MMdays points out how the business model works: you find your rough location first, and starting from that location, you can search for the nearby business. This function gives motivation for the location stores to place advertisement onto Google Maps Mobile (GMM), and even better, deliver online coupon directly onto your cellphone.

Will this be an replacement for GPS – I would say no. They serve different functionality. GPS provide routing, guiding from precise location information and that is needed under many circumstances. However, the addressable market size for a GMM can be larger than a GPS. GPS require extra device to work. On the other hand, GMM can work on most smart phones that has Internet connections. Each household may have one or two GPS but each person will have one cellphone.

Moreover, the points of interests in GPS can be quite limited and the road information are not immediately up-to-date. Google maps’ centralized database makes sure that the map information you get is always up-to-date. Thanks to the high awareness and good search functions provided by Google, this GMM may be able to attract many local advertisement.

Even better is that, in the future, certain advanced cell phone may provide GPS functions. In that case, the routing and guiding job, as well as searching for local business can all be provided by GMM. In that scenario, stand-alone GPS device may be obsolete.

There are still ways that an GPS company can react – adding wireless functions that support mid-range wireless network such as WiMax to get immediate update online can be one attraction. But no matter what, GPS companies should really keep an eye on what’s happening in other related fields, too.


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