We had a great MoMo meeting last night. Fantastic turnout (somewhere between 80 and 90 people) even though we have a holiday right in the middle of the week and lots of people were out of town. I assume that means that the people who were still in town felt they had more free time to check out events.
Blair gave a fantastic overview of the location based services ecosystem in general. One of the things he brought up was the difference between the European environment and the US environment bringing out a lot of disparity. Europe doesn’t have their equivalent to e911 mandated yet, so the carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure for location the same way that US carriers have. They do have something of the kind (called e112 apparently, check this out for some additional info) which could mean that carriers over there will hop into the environment the same way they have out here.
However it’s also the case that users in Europe tend to have much more loyalty to their handset manufacturer than they do to their carrier. Thus devices with standalone GPS are much more prevalent over there, cause it keeps the carrier out of the mix. Certainly helps to explain Nokia’s big push to get GPS handsets out there. Great stuff. Blair just needs to clean up his slides a bit (or get permission to share the stuff that he’s used from other sources) and we should be able to get them up online soon.
The eventual view is that there will be many different producers of location info updates operating completely independently of a number of applications that use your location info. If the updates are frequent and automatic enough other applications can be context aware without the burden being placed on the user to either setup a location enabled device to send updates or to explicitly push location updates. The whole thing could operate over the web for instance without using mobile devices at all. You do a search for movies in San Francisco on Fandango, and then when you go to Yelp to look for a restaurant the default location is San Fran. If both applications produced and consumed Fire Eagle, and you had authorized them, the system as a whole would seem to be more aware of context. Of course it’s more interesting when you toss mobile devices into the mix. I like the fact that it can operate completely on the web however, cause that’s an indicator that it’s not tied to carriers or handset providers at all. I would love to play with it, but given my time constraints recently I’m probably just going to have to watch from the sidelines.