Google Latitude is certainly sparking a debate as who will champion & dominate the location based micro-blogging and connectivity services. It is also an interesting service launch from the Mountain View co. in the light of its recent service cut backs and closures – Google trims down. No doubt this could be viewed as a resource alignment from the ever ambitious Google in the light of the current economic climate to focus on more valued products and services.
And to a great extent I agree with Chris that Brightkite is a certainly miles in front of Latitude in terms of integration with other services, overall feature set, accessibility and usability. But it’s had a head start!
I also agree with Chris Brogan – Google Latitude is a Marker to Consider
This is a turning point that Brightkite and others like them can’t ignore. So it’s true Latitude remains immature in reach as yet no iphone client, and users need to have a Google ID. But I think Google is on to something sharp here.
Up till now Microsoft has not significantly advanced it’s mobile services for Windows Live mobile users
though there are clients for both blackberries and iphones, apart from the preferred Windows Mobile devices.
Yahoo is in a major re-shuffle after the struggles of last year, and its unlikely to build or advance their Fireeagle service.
It remains a well defined back office location service for a variety of smaller service companies to build a mobile location service upon.
Here’s what I think Google Latitude could achieve in a relatively short time scale provided they managed it well.
Imagine a sports’ team has finished it’s practice and are going out for some food.
Google Local would be able to provide them with a recommendation on the most convenient place to eat.
With a little participation on behalf of the team and some extensions to Latitude, they may have bookmarked their favourites places, or be able to share their preferred cuisine type via Google Latitude.
This feeding into Google local would then aggregate this information to show the best place based on recommendations or shared preferences.
What would be would really be a neat thing for Google to do, is to offer a booking service on top of that. Therefore opening them up for revenue stream and service provider role, once a preference was made a booking could be forwarded to the restaurant and the confirmation returned to the individuals involved within that Google Latitude network. In the same way Google takes a service cut for clicks on Adwords, then they could make a small charge for delivering a booking to a venue.
Google definitely has the resources, and the user base to make this happen; and this is possibly the type of service that will bring mobile location services to the masses and make Google a de facto service provider.