Mobile Radicals on Location-based services

A very interesting blogpost about the fall and rise of location-based services on Mobile Radicals:

During the early days of WAP capable mobile phones, BT Cellnet in conjunction with the then un-deregulated 192 service and Yellow Pages would allow you to find such useful things as a curry house when out on the town after a few too many pints. The idea was great and full of promise, but alas didn’t really work. The public understandably were confused by the fact that if they were standing outside their favourite curry house and asked for the nearest, the service would often point them to one that was at best a few hundred yards away. The problem was that the service used the mobile network CellID to determine your location. (...) With 2G services these cells were on average quite large. Outside major cities (in particular London) a single cell could easily have a radius of a few kilometers. Early LBSs could not tell where within these cells you were standing. LBSs could only provide the location of the requested service that it had listed for that particular cell. (...) The few survivors of the dot-com bust in 2001 have tailored themselves towards a business service rather than a consumer service. Most CellID based location services are used for asset and employee tracking, therefore performing paradigm-180. (...) Whilst the early implementations of cell style location based services have died out, the idea itself has found new homes in a variety of areas.

The most well known of these areas is the search industry. Most ‘Yellow Pages’ style companies and big search engines allow you to search for shops and other service providers based off your geographic location. ‘Find the nearest’ has become a must-have feature for almost all search firms. Instead of using your current location based off a very fuzzy positioning system (like CellID), they use post (zip for our American readers) code to locate your position. (...) Satellite navigation firms are the latest to enter this area. Modern GPS-based navigation systems contain facilities to find the nearest fuel station, or other point of interest based on your current position and projected route. (...) GPS provides a much finer resolution for LBS to use. Consumer devices with accuracy to within 100 metres in most situations, and to within 15 metres in ideal conditions, are now available on the mass market. (...) Cells are shrinking with the roll-out of 3G base stations, and it is possible to use signal strength from multiple transmitters to triangulate the position to within a few hundred meters, so better LBSs are possible.

Why do I blog this? understanding lbs troubles and problems is interesting. I appreciate the kind of stories beginning with "The public understandably were confused by...", a very recurrent issue with technologies.