Helio Buddy Beacon launched

It’s been fun watching the press pick up on the Helio Buddy Beacon since it went live last week.

Here’s our uLocate blurb:

When Helio looked for a partner and platform to build their Buddy Beacon service, they came to the North American leader in wireless location based services – uLocate. HELIO is a joint venture between SK Telecom, the world’s most innovative wireless carrier, and EarthLink, the next generation Internet service provider.

A few reviewers have confused Google Maps Mobile with the maps behind Buddy Beacon (they’re actually MapQuest maps) but mostly people are getting it right and giving a favorable view on the service.

The ‘friend finding’ space is heating up. Loopt recently revealed some subscriber numbers on Boost for their currently free application. And operators in South Korea have been very successful with buddy finders, a business in which they’ve been playing for many years with subscription numbers that would be unbelievable in the US. Of course, Korea has a different demographic for these services, a different culture, and perhaps most significantly allows location roaming across operators. It will take the efforts of standards-making bodies like the CTIA LBS Interop Working Group to make location roaming happen here.

There’s been some good research in this space, and it’s clear that friend finding can be extremely useful and comfortable so long as privacy is carefully managed. There’s no reason to think that friend finding services won’t take off over the next few years and become an ubiquitous part of the mobile landscape.

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