There is a new trend on the web and both startups and investors are taking note. Fred Wilson has called this trend, “taking the web offline”. Others call it the challenge of “local”. Companies like Loopt and Foursquare are taking this problem head on. As the only web nerd amongst my group of friends I love applications that are appealing to the non-techies (makes me feel normal). I really like the notion of using the web as a tool to improve life, not just keeping eyeballs and activity on the web, and I do think there’s serious lifestyle change and revenue potential in it. The key that makes this all possible is that the web is now mobile.
With the combination of smart phones with decent web browsers and the ability for developers to make applications on these machines, people can “check in”, connect with each other, and find reviews on the fly. I love seeing the Yelp stickers in bar windows because it tells me that the owners care what customers think and if that’s important to them than my experience at that venue is sure to be better. The web is moving away from just the office or home pc and moving into the actual establishment, into the venue, via our pockets. Because we now have the web in our pockets we can interact with a business via the web in real time.
Consider this: Prior to walking into my local pub, I “check in”, pub tender is monitoring Twitter or Foursquare, she see’s that I’m coming, she pours my drink without me even ordering it yet, it’s ready upon my arrival… yea I’d pay an extra couple bucks for that. Extreme example I know, but the information that venues can now access is awesome and will continue to increase. IMHO, they’ll definitely pay for it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how and when this transformation will really pick up speed and I’m going to write about it a bit over the next week or so. I think that local is already big and going to increase in importance. Companies like Everyblock who was recently acquired by bring you hyper local news, and other services make exploring your city and meeting people close to you easier than ever before.
What location based applications are you using? Everytime your iPhone or BB asks, can we use your location, how often do you say yes?