Free phone-based navigation

From GPS Review:

Emappz has released a beta version of their free (ad-based) GPS navigation software for mobile phones. The software uses the RaveGo Location Platform from Idevio. The RaveGo platform produces rotating maps, 3D views, streaming data transmission, routing, POIs, etc. Data comes from NAVTEQ and covers Western Europe.

Not at all clear to me how an ad model can support a free nav application on mobile phones, unless there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

ESRI launches Google Earth killer

Ogle Earth reports that ESRI is launching a Google Earth competitor. Good to see a new entry into the market. The new ‘ESRI Geographic Exploration System’ will bring to bear powerful GIS capabilities and access to thousands of sources of free OGC data. ESRI’s challenges will be matching Google standards for usability and scalability.

Here are some quotes from those in the know:

James Fee says:

You are going to love this. This is a 2nd generation GIS product that is Google Maps, Google Earth, Virtual Earth and World Wind and more. ESRI has taken a major leap – a revolutionary leap – into the viewer exploration world.

Ed Parsons says:

ArcGIS Explorer is a Google Earth Killer, clearly ESRI were more than a little put out by the hype surronding Google Earth and have come out fighting….

ESRI have developed a interactive navigation tool which floats as a separate window, and according to my ESRI friend has been developed based on the rich experience of games designers who really know how 3D navigation works.

Jeff Thurston says:

Because ArcGIS Explorer is database enabled (meaning all the geographic data you have in your system now) it can be shared with other users. This goes beyond Google Maps and Earth in terms of simplicity while coupling huge amounts of data sharing possibilities. Working in KML? This product handles KML. It also handles 3D objects in the viewer.

Did I say this is free?

The ESRI announcement coincides with a relevant piece of information from Bill Gates about Microsoft’s investment of hundreds of millions on a virtual reality 3D globe.

Sprint Power Vision is EV-DO

From Engadget.

So here’s whatcha got:

Their Power Vision Access Pack, the lowest-end service, includes all you-can-eat unlimited EV-DO for $15 a month (and includes streaming news and music)

The Power Vision Plus Pack goes for $20 a month, and includes unlimited imaging (i.e. MMS), and Sprint TV Plus (streaming content from ABC News, Fuel, Fuse, Fox News/Sports, etc.)

The Power Vision Ultimate Pack is $25 a month, and includes all of the above plus yet more channels (including NBC, ESPN, Discover, TLC, etc.).

Update (via TechDirt):

If a user wants to tether their phone to their computer, it’s an additional $25 per month. So a user could get unlimited EV-DO access on their laptop (via their phone) for as little as $40 per month plus voice charges.

80,000 geo-tagged Flickr pics … next will be blogs

Cool discussion on the geowanking list (Geowanking Digest, Vol 23, Issue 21) about geo-tagging blogs:

The basic idea is to insert structured strings (geo:lat=*, geo:long=*)
within whatever fields are available, and then build maps and scrapers
to extract location.

When it catches on, it’s sure to get their attention. This has already
happened with flickr, 80K+ geotagged flickr images. Mostly due to
clever greasemonkey integration.

At some point, there will be a critical mass of geo-tagged content that will make the mobile LBS experience pretty incredible.

Verizon makes money from EV-DO

Telcoms reports on Verizon’s Q3 earnings:

The company now counts 21.6 million data customers, a 48.1% increase compared with a year ago, with data services for the quarter climbing to 8.4% of service revenues, or US$613 million, as sales of EV-DO data services to businesses and consumers continued to gain.

Verizon’s multi-part strategy seems to be working for them:
1. Decrease voice pricing (free in-network calling, etc) in line with the competition.
2. Keep the handset locked in the walled garden and continue to milk subscribers for BREW subscription revenue.
3. Build out a broadband wireless data network.

As frustrating as their handset strategy may be to consumers and content providers, there is some logic in what they’re doing. And Verizon Wireless combined with Verizon FIOS (which I can’t wait to get) will create the killer broadband network.

Facebook: 5m registered users (and 4.6m return every month)

This Facebook phenomena is out of control. Jeff Clavier captured a panel discussion with Mark Zuckerberg and Jim Breyer.

A couple of reasons for their success:

  • The Facebook is designed to be a directory and set of tools for consumers, rather than a ‘social networking’ app that encourages people to communicate with each other.
  • The Facebook provides safety from ‘stalkers’ by restricting people to their university. This sense of security allows people to share information such as cell phone numbers freely.

Here are the stats:

  • 5M+ registered users
  • coverage of 45% of US colleges
  • 80% penetration among students of colleges that are on the platform
  • 10th most visited Internet site in the US
  • 5.5B page/views a month (230M page/views a day)
  • signing 20,000 new users a day
  • repeat usage: daily 70%, weekly 85%, monthly 93% – can you think of another site that sees 93% of its registered users coming back every month ?

And for reference, from May 2005:

  • Out of 1400 universities in the US, 640 have been launched.
  • In those universities, they have a 50 to 90 percent penetration
  • Total number of registered users: 2.6 million
  • Frequency of visits: 65% of the user base visits the site every day, 95% every month (!!!!)
  • Average number of visits per day: 6
  • Traffic: 3 billion page views from US registered users

BusinessWeek gets it right and wrong

BusinessWeek Online has an article with a few good anecdotes from the international LBS market, and a couple of major inaccuracies about the US market.

  • “I used to be worried when my boyfriend didn’t answer my calls,” says Shim You Sun, a 25-year-old accountant who pays 11 cents each time she checks up on him. “Now I can rest assured that he is at work or busy attending a seminar.”
  • Send a message with your coordinates to friends and family periodically while you’re traveling.
  • Dispatch a text message to friends who get within a block or so of each other as they move around town
  • For 29 cents a day, send a message if a person isn’t at a specified place at a certain time and then allow the tracker to see the person’s movements over the previous five hours.
  • 20,000 parents pay $10 per month for alerts if their children stray from the route between school and home
  • Mobile LBS services are growing by 74% annually, with revenues expected to triple in 2007, to $1.54 billion, from $500 million last year.
  • In Britain, The Carphone Warehouse offers mapAmobile, a $52-a-year service that lets parents track their cell-toting kids.
  • In Japan, subscribers can sign up for text messages advertising bargains at department stores as they pass by.
  • Hwang Yoon, who runs a call center for 1,500 taxi drivers, uses a service that broadcasts text messages to cabdrivers within a one-, two-, or three-kilometer radius of a fare’s location. The first driver who responds — by pushing a button on the phone — gets the job.
  • Sales of business-related tracking services in Korea are expected to jump more than fivefold this year, to $248 million, from $43 million last year.
  • But they get it completely wrong when they talk about the US:

    In the U.S., a company called Teen Arrive Alive offers parents a $20-a-month tracking service for their teens. But to date the company has sold the service to only one cell-phone carrier, Nextel.

    Meaningless since only one cell phone carrier supports LBS services, Nextel.

    Others are having a tough time, too. Cingular phased out a tracking service offered by AT&T Wireless when the two carriers merged last year. Small wonder: Less than 20% of Americans are willing to pay for such info, says market watcher Jupiter Research.

    I’ve never heard that Cingular phased out LBS b/c it wasn’t desired by consumers, rather AT&T’s former service was phased out b/c the infrastructure was incompatible and the LBS service was only cell-ID accuracy. Cingular is about to find itself far behind its rivals Verizon and Sprint-Nextel with regard to LBS. And the article either misstates the Jupiter report or takes it out of context, b/c every survey I’ve seen from Jupiter and others shows consumers willing to pay for LBS.

MyYahoo! RSS OPML

Don’t know why this isn’t more widely published since Jeremy blogged it last month. Yahoo! exposes the OPML which allows you to export your RSS feeds (if somewhat crudely) from Yahoo!

The OPML page is at http://api2.my.yahoo.com/2.0/content/getsubs (you have to be logged into Yahoo to use it)

At the moment, I’m only using the export feature to put together my blogroll. While there are plenty of things I dislike about the Yahoo! RSS reader (it poorly tracks which entries you’ve read, it requires multiple clicks to add a new feed by URL, it lacks tools to manage, tag or categorize, it’s hard to tell when entries were posted), I do have faith in Yahoo’s ability to iterate improvements, so I’ll stick with it for now.