App makers just want the ability to push messaging to a phone based on where you are. It’s the age-old idea of, you walk past a Starbucks, and your phone goes off with a coupon. But we’re now years into this smart phone thing and it’s still not here.
Portland startup Geoloqi has been heralded as the one company to have finally cracked the code. It’s no accident. “We didn’t want to work on problems everyone is working on,” co-founder Amber Case told me. “We want to solve the hard ones.”
The company launched just months ago with its location-based services developer platform, and already Case has been bombarded with inbound calls from investors, partners and potential clients. It’s got all the right buzzwords –persistent background, rich location tracking, real time, battery management, next generation, SDK… It’s all there. It’s not a Foursquare competitor as some have suggested, it’s a tool for any app developer that wants to include location as a feature. The company has raised a sub-million-dollar seed round; I wouldn’t be surprised if a Series A is in the offing.
Thus far, the platform has only been used by TATE, a government contractor that tracks its workers in emergency situations in foreign countries.
But the demand, pent up now for years as app developers struggle to crack the location code, is huge.
Today, in a keynote address at SXSW, Case announced the company’s first set of partnerships with Appcelerator, Factual and Locaid.
Factual is a data aggregation platform with its own location API; its database of businesses and points of interest will be used on Geoloqi’s platform. Appcelerator is a mobile developer platform; Geoloqi will be the widget that powers its location-based functionality. Locaid is a carrier location platform. Frankly, I’m not 100% sure on how this partnership works, but from what I understand, the partnerships combine Geoloqi’s check-ins, location-based messaging, geofence alerts, and maps with the devices in Locaid’s network.
There’s a reason the location problem has gone unsolved for so long. Aside from the complex nature of the problem, there’s also the creepy factor. People are a little squeamish about their phones knowing where they are at all times.
People were also squeamish about publishing any sort of personal information online. Pleaserobme, anyone?
Dennis Crowley of Foursquare discussed the problem on stage at SXSW yesterday. He said the company hasn’t pushed its real time location product, Radar, too hard yet because people aren’t ready for their phones to know where they are at all times. The buzz around companies like Highlight, Sonar and Glancee suggest otherwise, but since no numbers have been released on usage of these relatively young services, it could be nothing more than buzz. Regardless, this is the direction many many tech companies are going, and it’s hard to imagine this many smart people being dead wrong.