Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Location

It’s clear that location is an opportunity ready for its time, but making technology smarter by knowing where we are needs to happen as part of a platform, not be an end unto itself. That’s why I found — and I think many entrepreneurs, developers and investors will find — Phil Hendrix’s new report for GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d) particularly useful. There’s a lot going on here and it’s helpful to get all the pieces in one place.

Location: The Epicenter of Mobile Innovation in 2010” is immr founder Hendrix’ 56-page primer on the space.

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And here are some of his takeaways I found most interesting (all direct quotes from the report):

* Tectonic shifts are (i) making geodata “free”; (ii) improving the level of detail and accuracy of geodata; and (iii) enhancing the variety, richness and usefulness of maps and geodata. Efforts by Google, OpenStreetMap and other new players are expanding access to low-cost, even free, geodata while crowd sourcing and other efforts are simultaneously increasing accuracy, detail and fidelity.

* Given its ease of use and intuitiveness, one application in particular — Visual Search — will soon come to dominate search on mobile devices.

* Although bar codes are commonly associated with buying products, the potential applications of bar codes and QR codes are wide ranging…The open-source model is likely to win out over the closed, publisher-managed model.

* Automatic geotagging will (i) rapidly increase the frequency with which users add “location” to their social data; (ii) dramatically expand the volume of location-specific information produced; and (iii) intensify the need and create significant new opportunities for solutions that help individuals filter, find, access and leverage timely, location-specific content.

* Policies and standards for handling disclosure and location information, interoperable solution and even “privacy setting aggregators” are an urgent need.

* Recognizing the significant window of opportunity, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple are competing to be the dominant provider of location-based assets. With its ability to offer location-based services — including location-determination, visual and proximity search and others — “for free,” offsetting the cost through advertising and other revenue sources, Google is uniquely positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities.