Location based services get sexy

lbsThis week I participated in the judging for Navteq’s Global LBS Challenge. The challenge is a yearly event across three regions that gives mobile developers the opportunity to showcase innovative location based services. At least 30% of previous contestants have received venture capital funding or  launched commercial applications.

Many of the solutions were focused on solving a very specific consumer problem and follow the concept of creating applications that have a utility  in a consumer’s lifestyle. The ones that were least successful just had some business model challenges or some design flaws but all were based on leveraging mobile to enhance one’s lifestyle.

Here is some detail on the challenge from Denny Reinert, National Dir. Interactive Sales for Navteq

Here are some of the more interesting applications demonstrated:

Rough Guide Mobile Travel Guide by Creativity Software
A great translation of rough guide content in a pleasing and intuitive navigation leveraging mapping data.
Not only a useful application for finding out where to go and how to get there globally, but also loaded with social media content for the active travel…adding photos, reviews and more to increase your status as the savvy traveler.
Business Model: Fee for initial purchase, then contextual ads based on location.

DialPlus by Dialplus Inc
This application enhances the standard phone call experience by automatically and simultaneously providing dynamic, contextually relevant visual information about the called or calling party…incorporating social media content into the profile info. What I loved most about this app was it’s ability to connect with the native apps on your phone, easily saving that expanded data into your address book. Currently on my blackberry, Google maps or even 411 text info requires cutting, pasting and formatting.

Business Model: Costs would be shared across information services as well as banner ads; ads will ultimately be contextually relevant based on local .

Taxi4me by T + 1 Solutions
A bunch of lovely folks from Estonia, taxi4me breaks down any barriers from ordering taxis anywhere in the world. Time and location info are sent from the mobile phone to a taxi brokering server. Local taxi companies make offers and the client chooses the best time and price using their phone. The cab driver can’t pull any special long fares because the data has already been delivered to the client re mapping and costs.

Business Model: Fees will be charged to taxi companies for participating but will be incentivized to get in the game and offer competitive rates. Plus the tool will translate maps and locations names to English.

Yojo Mama by Yojo Mobile Inc
Yojo Mama is a parent’s mobile helper. A location service application for child friendly restaurants, toy stores, bathrooms with changing areas and also rainy day weather suggestions. Yojo also has active local communities developing so you can get reviews and advice from other moms. Mizpee is also a fabulous application by the same company, to help you find public bathrooms anywhere in the US.
Business model: Contextual advertising based on locations and rec’s.

The top winners of the 14 companies represented will be announced Thursday at CTIA.
Watch the ceremony live on April 2 at 3:00pm PST