GPS Business News attended the WHERE Conference this week in San Francisco. Although the number of attendees seemed to have slightly decreased this year the conference retained all of its interest as a hub where geo-technologists from web giants (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, eBay, etc…) and tiny start-ups alike shared their ideas and market insights.
A buzz word of the conference has been “SoLoMoCo“, a quite horrful acronym that symbolizes the mix of social, local, mobile with commerce.
The advent of mobile commerce – and even more mobile payment – represents a new phase in the maturity of the mobile industry and possibly a location-based services industry. Companies such as PayPal, LevelUp or Dwolla demonstrated their mobile payments solutions, all aiming at making purchases in the physical – or online – world as frictionless as possible.
Mobile payment is the last part of the chain going from local discovery to local purchase. Moving forward it is likely that LBS developers will be offered payment APIs enabling their users to pay for offline transactions at retailers, hence for developers a way to earn a living in getting a referral commission within the value chain.
Location data analytics
Location data analytics is also something that was much talked at the conference.
A new breed of start-up companies has emarged from this space. For example, Placed and Alohar Mobile are looking at app developers, with technology enabling the development of new services or consumers insights based on location data and persistent sensing through smartphone sensors readings.
Large companies are also mining their location data in innovative ways. eBay and MapQuest gave some examples of these data mining opportunities.
Hunch, a start-up acquired by eBay is specializing in building a taste graph based on a questions answered by its users. They developed Hunch Global, an experimental project which generates a personalized heatmap over any part of the world. They used public reviews from local search sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor combined with Hunch data to determine “taste profiles” for geographic regions. The heatmap can be used in many ways, for example recommending Paris neighborhoods for a particular Facebook user to predicting restaurant interest throughout the United States based on political affiliation.
To build Vibes, MapQuest’s local search service that ranks local businesses in neighborhood, the mapping portal datamined 15 years of user’s logs and built algorithms to filter through the clutter what are the best local restaurants, bars, etc…