Geolocation in Firefox 3.5: It's Coming!

Firefox 3.5 is on the verge of being released and it will include geolocation. According to this post, “Firefox 3.5 includes a simple JavaScript API that allows you to quickly geo-enable your web application. It allows users to optionally share their location with websites without having to type in a postal code.” Firefox will use local WiFi networks and IP address information to try to guess the user’s location.

How will it work? According to Doug Turner, one of the geo-location feature developers, “This feature is completely opt-in! If you don’t do anything, geolocation is never used. When a web page wants ask you for your location, you get an dialog similar to the one below. If you do nothing, the feature stays off by default. Only if you press “Tell them”, will you send out your location information.”

firefox geolocation-small

What it means: in 35 days, Firefox 3.5 will be available for download (you can find the beta version here) and will provide access to geolocation data. I believe this is the beginning of a brave new local world online and every major site will try to provide a local view for their users. Is your site ready?

Geolocation in Firefox 3.5: It's Coming!

Firefox 3.5 is on the verge of being released and it will include geolocation. According to this post, “Firefox 3.5 includes a simple JavaScript API that allows you to quickly geo-enable your web application. It allows users to optionally share their location with websites without having to type in a postal code.” Firefox will use local WiFi networks and IP address information to try to guess the user’s location.

How will it work? According to Doug Turner, one of the geo-location feature developers, “This feature is completely opt-in! If you don’t do anything, geolocation is never used. When a web page wants ask you for your location, you get an dialog similar to the one below. If you do nothing, the feature stays off by default. Only if you press “Tell them”, will you send out your location information.”

firefox geolocation-small

What it means: in 35 days, Firefox 3.5 will be available for download (you can find the beta version here) and will provide access to geolocation data. I believe this is the beginning of a brave new local world online and every major site will try to provide a local view for their users. Is your site ready?

TV Content Atomization is the Biggest Threat to Cablecos

The Wired blog reports on a new customer satisfaction study from market researcher [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e70e73bc173c08791d52fb78fc51947def” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] explaining that Cablecos could soon see customer exodus if they don’t improve their customer service.

“Cable subscribers are generally less satisfied, which creates opportunities for satellite and telco/IPTV providers to grab customers,” said Kurt Scherf, vice president, principal analyst, Parks Associates, in a prepared statement. “Although cable operators have improved service efforts, cable operators will still hemorrhage subscribers unless they are perceived as offering leading-edge features at equal or better value. In today’s economic climate, carriers cannot afford to ignore these findings.”

What it means: I suspect the biggest threat to cable companies in the long run is not bad customer service.  It’s content atomization.  Initiatives like Hulu.com, internet broadcasting on TV networks web sites (I can watch full episodes of popular US series on CTV.ca) and BitTorrent allow anyone to watch their favorite TV shows anytime anywhere.  Compare this to cable packages, where you need to buy a minimum number of channels, some of which you never watch.  TV viewers will soon clamor for personalization and customization and will want to pay only for channels “consumed”.  Expect TV sets to come with Wi-Fi chips allowing you to connect your TV to your wireless router.

NaviCity: Yahoo! Local Meets Airport Wi-Fi

Logging-in to the Wayport Wi-Fi access of Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport, I was happily surprised by the home page displayed. It seems like Wayport has partnered with Yahoo! to display geo-targeted local information. The home page shows you the map of the neighborhood (in this case, the airport), a series of top category links and a search brick. Local weather and news complete this mini hyperlocal portal.

Navicity Yahoo Local

What it means: just as I’m writing a blog post covering the excellent muni Wi-Fi session I attended yesterday afternoon at SXSW, this home page pops in front of me. Smart move by Yahoo! Local. There’s an interesting case to be made in matching local search with Wi-Fi providers.

Top 10 Trends from the Mobile World Congress

As this week’s Mobile World Congress slowly winds down (tomorrow’s the last day), I thought it was appropriate to summarize the top 10 trends of the conference as identified by Infoworld magazine.

Mobile World Congress 2008 Barcelona

  1. GPS on board. Amongst the manufacturers, Nokia “plans to sell 35 million phones with GPS” this year.
  2. Better cameras with “face detection, image stabilization, and the ability to take better pictures in the dark”.
  3. Linux. Google Android prototypes. ’nuff said.
  4. Movies on your phone.
  5. Geotagging that “combines built-in support for navigation and photography. When you take a picture, your location is also saved. Then you can overlay that information on services like Google Maps and see where you’ve been.”
  6. Windows Mobile. “Four out of five of the biggest phone makers have phones based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system”
  7. High-speed mobile Internet
  8. Wi-Fi on board.
  9. FM transmitters.
  10. Touch-based interfaces.

What it means: phones are becoming more and more like mini-portable computers and trying to be at the center of your mobile life. In addition, more GPS on board and the geotagging functionality are very exciting stuff for a local search freak like me! I was also intrigued by the better face detection. Expect a day where you can take a picture of someone and, with his/her permission, become a “friend” in a social network…

Skyhook: Helping Apple’s Devices Know Where You Are Without GPS

Skyhook‘s technology uses signals from WiFi hot spots to triangulate and find a person’s location, instead of using a chip that lets a mobile device communicate with the satellite-based Global Positioning System.Skyhook, founded in 2003 by Ted Morgan and Michael Shean, has gathered and catalogued the WiFi fingerprint of streets in thousands of US cities and towns by driving along roads and collecting the unique signatures of 23 million WiFi signals that flow out of houses, businesses, and public access points. The company uses that data to let WiFi-enabled devices know where they are. (…)The software upgrade that includes the new location feature – it’s available free on an iPhone and for $19.99 on an iPod Touch – allows people to simply press a button to see where they are.

A map displays a bull’s-eye that’s centered on the user’s location; Morgan said Skyhook’s technology typically is accurate up to about 165 feet. The technology builds in the likely margin of error and draws a circle on the map, taking into account the likely error of the location technology, so that the user will be within the radius 95 percent of the time.

(via Boston.com)

ipod touch

(flickr photo by tibopoix)

What it means: I believe Apple is betting that location-based services represent the future growth for their iPod line of product. During Apple’s Q1 2008 conference call, their execs called it potentially the “first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform, running all kinds of mobile applications”. With the upcoming release of the iPhone SDK, we should be monitoring the growing installed base of these devices.

Wall Street Journal: Google Has Even Bigger Plans for Mobile Phones

This morning’s Wall Street Journal summarizes the various elements of Google’s mobile strategy:

 

  • Developed Android software for mobile phones.
  • Made Google applications — including email, chat and mapping — available on cellphones.
  • Sells advertisements for certain Web sites accessed by cellphone.
  • Enables users to do Web and business searches with cellphone browsers, by text message or with a call.
  • Is testing an advanced wireless network at Google headquarters.
  • Operates a free Wi-Fi network in Mountain View, Calif.
  • Expected to bid for wireless spectrum in a January FCC auction.

What it means: very serious, multi-prong wireless strategy. Google definitely sees the opportunity in mobile. BTW, I find myself blogging more and more about mobile internet. This must mean something…