uLocate launches GPS widget platform with metroPCS

Ulocate communications today announced that its GPS widget platform “Where” is now available with the U.S. wireless operator metroPCS. Where costs $2.99 per month and is currently compatible with five metroPCS phones. MetroPCS has over 3.6 million subscribers in the United States.

This is the fourth U.S. wireless operator signed by Ulocate after Sprint, Alltel and Boost Mobile.

Buddy Beacon

In a separate news last week, uLocate announced their acquisition of the Buddy Beacon name from U.S wireless operator Helio. Introduced by Helio in partnership with uLocate in 2006, Buddy Beacon is a friend finder application. With this acquisition ulocate will be able to extend its Buddy Beacon service to other wireless operators. Buddy Beacon will be available on the Where platform and as BREW and Java applications.

Gizmondo, back from ashes?

In an interview with Swedish online newspaper Realtid.se, Carl Freer, former CEO of bankrupt mobile gaming company Gizmondo, said he will relaunch the portable gaming console in 2008.

The Gizmondo would be produced by a Chinese company in Shenzen that would get rights to sell the product in China. Carl Freer claims to have 35 games for the console including 6 new titles. The price of the gaming console could be US$99 and might be free with some wireless operators, he said.

Launched in 2005, the initial Gizmondo was the first portable gaming console to feature a GPRS connection, a GPS and a camera. Two versions of the device were distributed, one of them at a lower price thanks to an advertising-based business model.

But the device sold poorly while the company burned cash at a frenetic pace, and by February of 2006 the company discontinued the Gizmondo and was forced into bankruptcy.

Thanks to its GS and GPRS connection the Gizmondo was supposed to offer multiplayer location-based gaming. The game “Colorsâ€? was intended to be the first of this kind, but due to Gizmondo’s bankruptcy, it was never officially released.

The company made the headlines when it was revealed that executives were spending the money of the company in luxury cars and one of them, Stefan Eriksson, was a Swedish mobster. The video below highlights the whole story behind the bankruptcy of the company.

if the video does not start please click here

WaveMarket Launches Location Based Services With Aliant

WaveMarket, a leader in mobile location-based search and services, announced that the company’s Family Finder and Asset Tracker has officially launched with Aliant, Atlantic Canada’s leading information and communications technology provider.

WaveMarket’s Family Finder technology, branded Seek & Find, offers parents the peace of mind to locate their children from any Internet connection. The WaveMarket Asset Tracker, branded GoTrax(tm) on the Aliant network, enables employers to manage their fleet more efficiently and identify the location of employees.

"WaveMarket is pleased to partner with Aliant to offer its customers our Family Finder and Asset Tracker services," said Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO of WaveMarket. "Aliant is a leader in wireless and Internet technologies. WaveMarket is excited to partner with them in providing innovative family location and asset tracking technologies for the first time in Atlantic Canada."

The Seek & Find service marks WaveMarket’s fourth commercial deployment of its industry-leading family location solution, having previously launched with Bell Mobility, Sprint Nextel, and Vivo, Latin America’s largest mobile carrier. Using the WaveMarket service, Aliant customers are able to locate their children on-demand and set up regular location checks, so parents may be notified that a child has arrived to school safely or is home by curfew.

WaveMarket’s Asset Tracker, which powers GoTrax(tm), gives employers the ability to locate their employees. The tool makes dispatching employees to appropriate customer locations more efficient, saving both time and money. Additionally, employers can set up ‘zones’ on a map so that they will receive notifications whenever an asset enters or leaves the zone.

"Demand for our Family Location service continues to grow globally at a rapid pace. Parents are becoming more aware and excited about the value of GPS technology which is already integrated into a huge number of mobile handsets," said Roumeliotis. "We believe that this market has enormous potential and are thrilled to continue to work with carrier partners, like Aliant, to deliver this valuable service to their customers."

uLocate’s GPS widget platform to launch on Alltel network

US wireless carrier Alltel and uLocate Communications today announced the launch of the WHERE GPS-enabled mobile widget platform on the Alltel network. The application is available for download in Alltel’s Axcess Shop for US $2.99 per month. The application will initially launch on five phones: The Waferâ„¢, The Alltel Hue and u520 by Samsung as well as The Wave and AX8600 by LG.

“WHERE is a perfect fit for our on-the-go customers who seek simple directions to everyday locations whether at home or while traveling”, said Wade McGill, senior vice president of wireless product marketing for Alltel.

WHERE allows content providers to easily develop a GPS-enabled application (widget) from a website with geo-localized content; then the user can access to this content through a GPS-enabled mobile phone and the WHERE mobile client. Today WHERE gathers more than 25 widgets on various topics as broad as to help you find the nearest Burger King or Rent A Car or to get local air quality or the biography of the local US representative. uLocate announced a ShopLocal widget two weeks ago (read here). WHERE uses the map data from Tele Atlas.

After Sprint, Alltel is the second wireless operator signed by ULocate. Alltel is the fifth biggest US wireless operator with 12 million customers and 5% market share (Source: Chetan Sharma Consulting).

Garmin Mobile debuts at US MVNO Helio

US-based virtual network operator Helio today unveiled a new device called Fin and announced the availability of Garmin Mobile for this cell phone as well as for the Ocean, another handset announced last March. After Sprint this is the second wireless operator signed by Garmin for its off-board navigation solution. But Helio remains a niche operator with around 100,000 subscribers (Q2 2007), even if targeting a young and connected demographics more inclined to use their device for data applications. Garmin Mobile is available for $2.99 per day, no monthly fee has been released at the time of publishing.

The new Helio Fin does not limit its GPS features to navigation, photos and video shot with Fin’s 3 megapixel camera are geo-tagged. Pictures can be automatically uploaded with their GPS coordinates to Flickr.com and be seen immediately on the Flickr map. Helio handsets also offer GPS-enabled Google Maps and “Buddy Beacon”, a friend finder application.

Indian telecom giant BSNL launched LBS

Telenity, a provider of applications for communications networks, announced that India’s state-owned telecom giant, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has successfully launched location-based services (LBS) on Telenity’s Canvas Location Enabling Server. BSNL has a market share of 45% in India with 75 million subscribers (March 2007 — Indian Telecom regulatory authority figures).

Four location-based services have been already launched in the East Zone of BSNL’s network:

– Friend Finder — alerts subscribers when one of their friends in their buddy list is in close proximity to their location.

– Location Based Advertisement – automatically broadcasts advertisement to subscribers within a defined geographical region via SMS messages.

– Location Based Chatting Service — enables subscribers to communicate and/or meet someone with same interests within the same vicinity.

– Real Time Fleet and Asset Management – enables enterprises to locate, monitor and manage their mobile assets and employees in a secure way using a simple Web browser.

“Location based services is the new genre of mobile services. This new service will attract new customers for BSNL and will also help in retaining existing customers. Proper marketing is required to attract the appropriate segment of customers. It will give BSNL an edge over its competitors in the country,” said Dr. Biswajit Paul, General Manager, BSNL East.

Mobile social networking patent sold for US$2.6 million

From our reporter in Chicago.

Just before 3:00pm today the US patent number 6,618,593 was sold for US$2.6 million at the live intellectual property auction organized by Ocean Tomo (see our previous article about the auction here) at the Union League Club of Chicago. This US$2.6 million bid is one of the biggest recorded for intellectual property during a live auction.

The lot number 25 was launched at a US$1 million starting price by the auctioneer and was disputed for several minutes by at least 3 different bidders. It eventually reached its final price when a quiet man seated in the middle of the crowd raised its hand and topped the last bid by US$100,000. After the usual three warnings the hammer of the auctioneer closed this record sale, followed by a burst of applause from the 300 intellectual property professionals gathered on the auction floor.

A hot market

This patent covers a location based match-making technology. The system, working with location-aware devices connected to a remote server, allows users to make connections with other users based upon specified preferences and their distance. For example, a user can setup a profile indicating the types of people he would be interested in meeting. When he comes nearby another user matching this profile, a notification is sent to both.

The field of application of this patent is essentially mobile social networking and mobile dating. Both markets are soon to explode, especially in the US with million of users on the verge to shift from PC to cell phone to manage their digital social life. These mobile applications are the obvious next steps for websites such as MySpace, Facebook or Match.com. Several start up companies are already launching their services, for example Loopt, which we interviewed recently (see here ).

While the buyer’s name is not disclosed according to the rules of these IP auctions, one can imagine it might be a large online social networking portal wishing to lock the market with a strong patent, or a company specialized in the monetization of intellectual properties willing to license this promising asset to the various players on the market. But for now the only people making profit out of it is the group of inventors who filed this innovative patent seven years ago.