By Julie Blaustein
Geolocational services are everywhere. Its in our smart phones, our cars and in our pictures. So why is there so much interest in it now and where is it going? The Ge- Loco Conference tackled the next big thing in advertising, social media and discovery at the Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 21st. Part of the reason for such interest now is its potential market in mobile advertising, as according to BIA/Kelsy Group, its expected to grow in the U.S. from $320 million in 2009 to $3.1 billion in 2013. That explains why all the buzz for FourSquare that has only 2.1 million users compared to others such as Facebook with 500 million users, Twitter with 190 million users and Yelp with 30 million users.
The conference started out with Robert Scoble‘s opening remarks. What better authority than Scoble who is the uber consumer user of location based services (LBS) and devices to aid him in both his personal life to find a descent places to eat and for his jet setting around the world for business. He then joined the first panel, The Future of Location Based Services. By 2014 all on the panel agreed that any user generated content will be automatically Geo-Tagged. Privacy is still the biggest issue, contributing major and justified concerns regarding stalking. Michael Liebhold of the Institute for the Future pointed out that facial recognition will be the most feared of all privacy concerns. On a brighter note, all agreed LBS is seen as enabling and fostering better communications among individuals and communities.
VC Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, provided the Keynote where he stated the two biggest issues with LBS – Privacy and Monetization. What gets him pumped? Applications that create lots of data that gets shared with millions of people such as maps – a utility where massive amounts of date are stored in the cloud. Wilson later had an interesting and entertaining “fire side” chat with John Battelle of Federated Media. Playing word association, Battelle asked Wilson to share what comes to mind when he mentions the following: Research in Motion = Not Good, Facebook = Juggernaut, Gowalla = Its tough being second fiddle, HP = Great Company, HP Palm = Great Acquisition, Microsoft = Dinosaur, Apple = Evil (laughter and applause from audience), Boxee = Promise, Google = Challenged.
The issues of Privacy and Monetization were discussed in depth, but certainly not solved during the conference. This conference is just the starting point. There were a number of industry leaders in attendance along with those that were tweeting or listening in that provided some insight into where things are going in the future. A number of additional issues were discussed and links were shared at the hashtag #geoloco, which is also a great transcript of the conference whether you were there or not. If you were there, its a great place to share your expertise, provide links and other thoughts to the conversation. And, as a result, you become more visible, gaining more followers on Twitter and in the industry. Sharon Lin, Senior Marketing Manager at Jumio, did a fantastic job keeping up with the fast talking panelists, acting as a moderator of the #geoloco stream. Its also interesting to note the many tools used to tweet. Most tweets were generated from Hootsuite and Tweetdeck but others included Seesmic, TweetGrid, TweetCaster, UberTwitter, Echofon, Brizzly. At times the discussion started to get a bit snarky, commenting about how the panelists were dressed. I started noticing what shoes panelists were wearing. Can you match up the speaker to the shoes in the photo? Let me know if you do @julierb.
To the event organizers, Mark Evans, Diane Bisgeier and to the many volunteers, congratulations on a well run and thought provoking meeting of the minds in Geo Locaion. If you missed it, become part of the conversation at #geoloco or check out Justin TV’s livestream of the Geo Loco Conference. You can also check out more photos of the panelists here.