Today I learned that Google is testing a new Free Mapping Service that will enable mobile phone users to determine their approximate location and retrieve mapping information without the use of GPS. Google continues to amaze me with their new products, ideas and innovation.
The details of how this all works are still unknown to me, but it has been speculated that that “general” location or area will be determined based on the closest receiving cell tower. Google has referred to this “general” location as “neighborhood-level information”. Sure, you won’t be able to get specific long/lat location, but (and this is my own speculation) you can get close enough to determine what shops, restaurants, events, etc (read consumables) are in the “general” area, and maybe develop an ad service suggesting locations of interest based on the users profile, habits, etc.. You know the typical song and dance.
Heres another hook. For all this to work, the mobile user will be required to download and install Google’s Free software on their mobile phones to use the service. Now I don’t know about you, but this is screaming “ANDROID!!!” Android is Google’s ambitious open source call to a mobile phone operating system. If your not familiar with Android, see my earlier post.
Finally, take into account Google’s announcement to bid on on wireless spectrum in the 700MHz band in late January when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission begins auctioning that resource, and things start to add up. This isin’t much of a surprise because Google had dropped some nuggets of information in the recent past showing some interest in this, but it was always unclear as to why.
Heres my take. Google has the collective resources to feel the winds of change surrounding their core internet based services. Users are not tied to their computers anymore. We are sharing information and data, collaborating across devices and platforms, making phone calls from our computers and browsing the web on our phones. Google sees the opportunity here and wants a piece – The First Piece. Traditional service providers are scrambling to change their business models to adapt to the open exchange and this is where Google has the advantage and always has. Google has developed some strong strategic alliances on the internet and mobile playing fields, and now they (Google) are putting all the pieces together. Don’t get me wrong. It won’t be easy, and there is a long road ahead for them, and many who would love to see them stumble. Either way, Google is about to shake things up.