It has been a busy month. Apple is getting help turning around its embarrassing mapping debacle with an acquisition of HopStop and Locationary. Latitude, which enables location sharing and check-ins, is being sunsetted by Google, as it adds that functionality to Google Plus. Twitter acquired Spindle to enable real-time location recommendations. Nokia, leading the charge in augmented reality, added LiveSight sight recognition into apps. And mobile advertising, the life blood of many location apps, is exceeding expectations for social media, but is disappointing with mobile search.
In a week when Facebook’ mobile advertising revenue far exceeded analyst expectations and garnered 41 percent of the company’s revenue, Google’s advertising woes are particularly interesting. Second-quarter revenue results from Google indicate that mobile devices are depressing its online advertising prices at a rate greater than expected. Search-ad prices have been declining since late 2011, but Google’s numbers are still surprising low. The average cost-per-click rate, the price Google gets paid by advertisers, is down 6 percent from a year ago. This was double the drop expected by analysts. The decline is due in part from the lower cost-per-click on sites that are accessed from mobile devices than those seen from PCs.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Google’s move to accelerate advertisers’ shift to mobile. The company overhauled its AdWords platform in February in an attempt to reach consumers across all device screens. This required advertisers to pay for mobile ads, even if they only wish to reach consumers via the desktop. Google saw this as a way to more revenue and insisted that an integrated platform would also benefit advertisers. The results have been disappointing and the switch to a mobile world may not be entirely good for Google.
Whatever it Takes. Apple is hard at work overhauling its mapping. Apple has confirmed its acquisition of Locationary and HopStop. Locationary solves the problem of out-of-date points of interest and business data with a platform that collects and verifies crowd-sourced and other data. It also checks the actual physical location of businesses and other places. HopStop offers a door-to-door navigation app that includes transit, walking, biking, and taxi directions in more than 500 cities worldwide.
Tweeting Spindle. Twitter has acquired Spindle, whose mobile search application leverages the social graph to deliver real-time local recommendations. The app harvests social media activity, including location and time of day, and identifies nearby restaurants, retail and other places in the vicinity. In March, Spindle added push notifications based on user preferences. Twitter has closed down the Spindle offering and is certain to repurpose it.
Airport Trip Timing. Traffic is only one of the delays that can be encountered on a trip. Not knowing the expected wait time at airport security frustrates travelers. TripAdvisor has acquired GateGuru to provide security-time estimates, gate locations, and real-time flight status. The company collects information from a mix of user-generated content and data from airports. The offering also includes weather forecasts, detailed maps, and information on terminal amenities.
Augmented Reality at Nokia. Augmented reality (AR) is a leap forward for mapping and is beginning to leave the realm of emerging technology and entering mainstream. Adding AR to maps creates an innate experience in which one can “see” a place with text or a superimposed image. Nokia, a leader in augmented reality, has added LiveSight, an integrated sight recognition technology into the Here suite of apps for some Window phones. Users can enter LiveSight mode, which will scan the surrounding area and pull up relevant information about nearby locations, like addresses, phone numbers, and ratings.Virtual signs are attached to buildings as viewed through the camera display. This can all be accessed off-line.
Augmented Job Searching. One novel app is Nokia’s JobLens, which adds augmented reality to job hunting. Users can visually see jobs around them through the phone’s camera lens. A number of search filters help narrow down jobs, including filtering jobs that have a connection with one’s social networks. JobLens is integrated with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live. Data is provided by partners that include LinkedIn, Indeed, Salary.com and Zillow. When a user finds a job that she wants to apply for, the application will then walk her through the application process and keep track of her progress. Will the job pay in fictitious currency?