the good, the bad and the ugly – B2C location sharing…

A number of interesting articles in the last few weeks about various different B2C location sharing solutions. If this sounds a little vague then let’s divide them a little bit:

There’s the:

  • CHECK-IN – in other words something that foursquare is fast becoming. (as I mentioned in an earlier post – for a variety of reasons foursquare in my opinion is not for location sharing with friends – but it’s great for asking for coupons for a particular venue or set of venues – it seems that even the foursquare fanboys like MG agree that foursquare is basically becoming a loyalty program). Basically this means that the venues do NOT track your location continuously but instead at some point when you’re thinking “Hmm I wonder if I can get any free stuff around here?” you check-in (thereby giving up your location) and you get your offers.
  • CONTINUOUS – pretty much what it says on the tin – you agree to give up your location – ALWAYS – and in exchange you get some free stuff every now and again. There’s a new service called ShopAlerts but there have been other suggestions of the same thing. Of course in this case the upside is supposedly that you (as a user) can be blissfully walking along sipping your soy-chai-latte and suddenly an offer comes in which pleases you because you really wanted 10% off at McDonalds. The downside is a combination of loss of privacy and loss of battery life (oh wait…how about potential of SPAM also)
  • HYBRID – and then there’s this. Perhaps the easiest way to describe this is to errm…consider combining the two. Oh wait…an article on TechCrunch about Foursquare that’s NOT written by MG Siegler…interesting – let’s link to it. Actually joking aside, Steve’s article touches on some the issues of self-check-in. In a venue based system (such as this) the particular version of the last-mile-problem (i.e. asking the user to tell the app which venue they are intending to check-in to) cannot be automated. At least not in any obvious way.

So basically none of this stuff seems ideal. Because it brings the problem back to the usual one of Privacy, Permissions and Preference. In fact – attempting to automate this process (especially in a B2C context – between a regular human and a business) actually accentuates the three P’s.

We created the autoReply system for this very reason:

autoreply android

We’re currently exploring integration with financial institutions for this very reason. If a business wants to know where you are because it’s relevant to them (e.g. you land in Berlin and try to buy a Sandwich and Bank of America thinks it might be fraud) – then they can bloody well ask.

echo flash

If you trust a business enough to automatically share your location with them whenever they ask – so be it – click the autoReply star – you will still know when they look for you.

It does however remain to be seen if users will willingly submit themselves to Orwellian global geotracking and personalised adverts everywhere they go. I’m gonna vote for no šŸ˜‰

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