Location, Location, Location

I’m still not entirely sure what Google is up to with its various WiFi and netowkr infrastructure flirtations. Google probably isn’t entirely sure itself — like Intel, it benefits from any growth in the relevant market, so it doesn’t have to figure out everything ahead of time.

Still, I’m beginning to suspect that another casualty of the dotcom bubble, location-based services, are about to make a big comeback. This is another topic I wrote about five years ago in Release 1.0, but the market was clearly ahead of itself back then. Now, though, things are different.

Combine local wireless infrastructure with powerful handheld devices and central repositories of location-tagged data (such as Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, or Amazons A9 search engine). Add location detection through GPS, or, intriguingly, triangulation from known WiFi access point locations (something Microsoft and at least one startup have demonstrated). What do you get?

Well, I’m not sure, but potentially something very, very big. Local advertising is a massive business. There are billions of dollars out there for the companies that figure out how to effectively extend e-commerce into the physical world. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and others are well aware of that. So is eBay, which is why I’d put the Skype aquisition potentially in this category as well.