Social mapping gaining momentum

People in the mobile business are calling the latest handset (as they call it in Europe) "the Swiss Army phone," and that all-purpose phone necessarily includes GPS pinpointing of the user's location. Two big stories in this space are Nokia's acquisition of "map and navigational software maker Navteq for $8.1 billion," Nokia's biggest acquisition to date, the New York Times reports, and Google's acquisition of Jaiku (ITworld.com reports). The Times says Nokia's move "is an indication of where Nokia and other handset makers are headed." To them the important part is revenue from advertisers who can, with GPS, aim their ads not just with demographic precision but now with geographic precision (walking by a pizza shop, see an ad on your phone screen beckoning you in! (That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I can tell you from first-hand travel experience of late that it might be a little less annoying than having salespeople on the sidewalk coaxing you inside as you walk by.) Anyway, precision advertising is the issue for mobile operators (and cellphone makers moving from products to services), while geo-positioning is the issue to parents and child advocates. GPS-enabled social mapping needs careful thought where minors are concerned, and some companies are giving serious thought to it. "Social mapping" – a phrase coined by loopt, a provider of this GPS-enabled social networking – means friends (and hopefully just friends made in "real life") can find out each other's physical location for getting together in person. Another example is Helio's Buddy Beacon (see this earlier story in the New York Times).

As for phone-enabled social networking on the Web (adding voice communications to profiles and blogs), see these press releases about Jaxtr and Jangl. And here's the Wall Street Journal on parental controls for mobile phones.


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