Dennis Crowley (Foursquare): Check-ins Will Be "Commodity by the End of the Year."

Silicon Alley Insider revealed this morning that Facebook is working on a “check-in” functionality similar to the one you can find in Foursquare or Brightkite (and now Yelp). When they reached Dennis Crowley, Foursquare cofounder, he said:

For his part, Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley told us he fully expects Facebook and others to launch “check-in” functionality, making it “commodity by the end of the year.”

via Facebook Is Working On A Foursquare-Killer.

What it means: if you’ve been following my recommendations closely, you know that “check-in” is one of the features of the perfect local media company of 2014. It’s already becoming a “commodity”, a must for any local media company mobile products. Check-ins also represent interesting data that should be added to merchant profile Web pages (like Yelp is doing).

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Google Latitude: Google's Next Platform Play

This morning, Google announced the launch of Google Latitude, its location-based mobile social networking application for mobile devices. Similar to other products like Loopt, Whrrl and Brightkite, it allows users to position themselves on a Google map (either manually or using your phone’s GPS), leave a status update message (like on Twitter or Facebook) and share (or not) that information (location and message) with your friends.

Google Latitude

Although the current service does not really innovate vs. the other three players I mentioned above, what’s very powerful is the ability to invite all your Gmail contacts (your “friends”) to connect to you in your mobile social network. Google understands that a large portion of your social graph resides in your e-mail software. Privacy is of utmost importance in a service like this and you can decide on various privacy settings for each friend. There is a nice online integration as well through an iGoogle application allowing you to interact with the service there.

What it means: think of Latitude as the next platform play for Google. Expect them to integrate it with Google Friend Connect to allow anyone to use those pieces of technology inside their own Web sites. I firmly believe that kind of feature/site infrastructure (friends/location/status updates) will be used by a majority of sites in the next five years and Google is hoping to capture a large portion of that market. Facebook, with its far superior Facebook Connect, is already ahead of Google on the friend infrastructure side but will need to play catchup and launch their own local/social platform as well in order to compete in that field.

Google Latitude: Google's Next Platform Play

This morning, Google announced the launch of Google Latitude, its location-based mobile social networking application for mobile devices. Similar to other products like Loopt, Whrrl and Brightkite, it allows users to position themselves on a Google map (either manually or using your phone’s GPS), leave a status update message (like on Twitter or Facebook) and share (or not) that information (location and message) with your friends.

Google Latitude

Although the current service does not really innovate vs. the other three players I mentioned above, what’s very powerful is the ability to invite all your Gmail contacts (your “friends”) to connect to you in your mobile social network. Google understands that a large portion of your social graph resides in your e-mail software. Privacy is of utmost importance in a service like this and you can decide on various privacy settings for each friend. There is a nice online integration as well through an iGoogle application allowing you to interact with the service there.

What it means: think of Latitude as the next platform play for Google. Expect them to integrate it with Google Friend Connect to allow anyone to use those pieces of technology inside their own Web sites. I firmly believe that kind of feature/site infrastructure (friends/location/status updates) will be used by a majority of sites in the next five years and Google is hoping to capture a large portion of that market. Facebook, with its far superior Facebook Connect, is already ahead of Google on the friend infrastructure side but will need to play catchup and launch their own local/social platform as well in order to compete in that field.

Mobile Social Networking: Who’s Who in New Start-ups

TechCrunch offers a list of new start-ups operating in the space they call “the holy grail of mobile social networking”: “physical presence detection and information exchange with other users.”

Aka-Aki (Germany): “create a profile and download the java app to your phone. You can also create and join groups that say things about your life, job, etc. When you are near other people who are members, data about you is transmitted to them via bluetooth, and vice versa. Users have control over data flow with privacy settings.”

Imity (Denmark): “it detects other members via bluetooth and send basic profile information to your phone. It also keeps track of people on its website, so you can check that out periodically from your normal computer. It’s bridges mobile and traditional social networks, which may help it gain critical mass.”

MeetMoi (USA): “it uses text messaging to help connect people. It’s dating focused – text your location to the service and it notifies other users in your area that you are there. If they are interested, they can contact you.”

MobiLuck (France): it “is another bluetooth solution similar to Aka-Aki and Imity. Download the software to your phone and it vibrates when other users are nearby. You can then chat with them, send photos, etc.”

BrightKite (USA): “serves location based notifications (”place streaming”) over email, instant messaging of text messages. The idea is to stream content about a place, from a place. Friends are alerted when you are nearby. You receive offers from local businesses. Etc. Targeted towards conferences, bars, parties and public places. It is also a platform for third party applications.”

What it means: Talking about critical success factors, TechCrunch mentions that “what’s harder is just plain getting a critical mass of users.” I would answer that’s only one side of the equation. The other one is monetization and I believe local advertising plays a key role there. If you operate a local play, you should be thinking hard about your mobile strategy today. My gut feeling is that we’re 18-24 months from real breakthroughs in local mobile advertising but, when that happens, it might become a very important source of revenues. How big? The Kelsey Group just released a report on US mobile search advertising revenues and they forecast that it will reach $1.4B in 2012.