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SoLoMo: The New Way to Understand Location

January 12th, 2012 by Max Gladwell · No Comments

As the technology space evolves, so does the terminology

In 2009, we added the term “geolocation” to this blog as one of its primary topics. We marked this with a post stating that geolocation would be a major trend in 2010. This echoed much of what other blogs were writing at the time. Geolocation was the buzz term.

We followed up several months later with one one of our distributed blog posts entitled “10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World.” It’s about this time, however, that the terminology shifted and we began to refer to this as location-based services or LBS for short.

We’ve published several posts on the topic, but this one from November of 2010 is particularly relevant and timely: Four Reasons to Invest in Location-Based Services. We were essentially making the case for checking-in. Today, Foursquare launched Explore for the Web at Earlier today we tweeted that it’s the first social search engine for the real world, as it uses your check-in history, social graph, and location to make intelligent recommendations of places you’d like to go. In that November post, some 14 months ago, we wrote,

“The promise of intelligent recommendations is the feature that gets me most excited. Based on the data I volunteer through checking-in everywhere I go, whether it’s a public or private checkin, location-based services can use their aggregate data to accurately recommend other places I’ll like. Mind you, this is no small task.

By checking-in everywhere I go at home and when I’m traveling, no matter how mundane or insignificant, these apps can learn a lot about what I like and don’t like. With enough data, they can learn more about my preferences than I probably even realize. Again, let’t think in terms of many years’ worth of data that may also include sentiment value one way or another. Then consider a data set that includes hundreds of millions of users all over the world.

This type of predictive intelligence for location is only possible if we provide the raw data i.e. a complete history of check-in behavior. That’s the trade-off. That’s the value exchange. And that’s ultimately how LBS improves my life.”

This is a game-changer for Foursquare and will likely provide a monetization engine not unlike Google Search. You can be sure that Facebook is working on something similar, given its push toward Yelp-like recommendations on Places, and there’s little doubt that Google will provide a similar service with a combination of Search, Plus, and Places.

Throughout 2011, we collectively referred to this as the Location-Based Services (LBS) space. It wasn’t ideal, and it lead to a lot of confusion about what did or did not constitute LBS. The term was both too broad and too narrow. With 2012, the terminology has evolved once again. Geolocation and Location-Based Services are now collectively referred to as SoLoMo – shorthand for the convergence of social, local, and mobile.


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Tags: SoLoMo