Google has just launched a new tool for geo-location via mobile phones, Latitude is a service based on the functionality of Google Maps. It is strange that these tricks were already made by Ipoki, also Amena, Vodafone and Find Friend, but now from the Google’s gold hands of its diffusion will be greater. We believe that service will become popular, but not without running the innovation risks at this level.
Let’s see in at least three positions, what does Google Latitude means.
Google knows where you are
It is known that Google plans to link this service to contextual advertising via Local Business; in this case it’s not starting from keywords but from geographic location. So if Google knows you’re at the semaphore of Platero’s Boulevard, business could insert ads into 1 kilometer away if there is a traffic map and could include you in the next two kilometers where you will be if you follow that path.
On this side, I don’t see any harm because we’re already saturated of advertising and we have learned to live with or without it. We also understand and support online advertising that has been to date one of the best strategies for Internet’s sustainability, apart from the provision of services associated with design and hosting.
You know where you are
Well, imagine you’re going to a meeting and can not find the right place; it’s simple, if one f your contacts will be there just look for where he is and go to the same site.
Also if you go to a party and do not want to arrive first, you can make sure if your other friends had got there, or in case of a work meeting, you can check if everybody has already arrived for not going to waste time.
In short, profits may be multiple at social networks levels, contacts, calendars and especially because it is trend to mobiles. As being from Google, perhaps it could be integrated into Gmail accounts, later to Google Calendar, then of course, AdSense, AdWords, and perhaps even his dying social networks like Orkut although some say that with this Google could be the largest social network. Competition will also do something similar and well positioned networks like Facebook will fully get into the API.
Others know where you are
Here is one of the risks; someone could know your routine trip, let us imagine a hijacker has selected your child… terrifying. What would happen if your mobile phone is stolen? the thief can decide undermine your contacts (friends), or at least write down their daily routines before that mobile is blocked.
Another would be to tell your boss you’re six blocks near the office in a traffic jam, when he is seeing that you haven’t even left home.
Or even the worst case: your wife says that for being everybody in tune each one will activate the service… mmm, gives me a reason to explain her why you do not want to enable it.
It’s sure that for all these risks there are exceptions, you can choose those who are entitled to view your position; you can also select when to navigate as a hidden user, I guess. But there is no guarantee that a virus or hacker can break security and be used for harmful purposes.
There will be those who may question if this involves an invasion of privacy, so that Google knows where you are, you know it, or you let others to know it, it is good that technology is evolving in this increasingly. We will see the evolution this will take and its deployment speed because I understand that for this, a permanent Internet access is required, by now, Google Latitude is available in 27 countries and various devices such as:
Most of the color BlackBerrys
Most of the devices with Windows Mobile 5.0 or higher
Most of the devices with Symbian S60 technology (Nokia “smartphones”)
Sony Ericsson’s mobiles with Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) technology; these are available at launch or shortly thereafter.
Google should also invent a system to geotag the damned keys … oh, by the way, I don’t think everyone will register to this service, e.g. Bin Ladden.