February 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm
As I have been an early adaptor for just about anything mobile, when Google launched this new product, http://www.google.com/latitude [PCWorld] I thought about giving it a try. For me, I have always felt in control with Facebook and others, and when it is about user opt-in and control- that is my motto.
I slept on it, and decided to go for it and install Google-Latitude. As it installed, it gulped my contact book in my Google Gmail account and before I knew it, many friends and not so close friends were getting pinged left and right with the invitation. I felt in control, but the ease with which it spreads is a bit nerve racking. Once they were invited, I kind of asked myself- this is a bit creepy, is it not, even my picture is a bit strange the way they show it.
Before, i knew it, I was getting acceptances from a variety of different people and the application was now in action. What I found interesting is that it only just tells you where your friends are?
I have not found the real value in an application that just tells you where your friends are with such precision.
For me, I have started to become an active user of Facebook’s instant messaging presence application. What is so powerful is to know that certain people are now online and I can have a quick chat with them. There are many of my friends that are just as busy as I am, and they are hard to reach in real time with email. However, with this app on facebook, we are connected when we are both in that mind-frame to connect ( why else would be be looking at Facebook to begin with?). However, with Google latitude, I can see where my friends are now but can not connect. This is where I see the total flaw in this application. If you are going to launch a social media application where you can connect with friends, there needs to be the ability to connect with those friends…… not just follow them around like a stalker.
Why did they not include GTalk or somekind on IM capabilities in the application? Why is only a reference and directions to getting to your friends?
The other question I ask, is why now at this time and on many devices ( my Nokia E71) but not on Android yet? I guess they are just testing the market.
As Google has been a platform company where many companies have been building thier own mash-ups on top of the Google API, why go head-to-head withthe many of the companies that already have social media applications that use a similar methodology? Take Loopt for instance? The were one of the first true Social Compasses. Is Google trying to disintermediate Loopt? http://www.loopt.com
When I tried to download Loopt to compare the user experience, I found that Loopt is not available in my region of Canada. Carriers do not yet support it. So Google did go independent from the carriers now globally with this Location product and especially in Canada. However, one of my friends in Japan said they were unable to install the application. So I guess they have not found a way to get into Japan as easy as Canada.
I think the application works great, and another great release for Google, but the product does not make sense yet to me at this time. Why are they coming out with products of this type when others are looking to Google as the platform to build on top of with these kinds of services. If it is about user data and advertising, to make better recommendations to the friends around me, then this is an interesting opt-in and ad sales proposition I am very excited to see how they do it.
Well for all those folks out there that got my invitation- please note, I am just trying this out, nothing more. If I find it useful, I will let you know, but in the mean time if you have a problem with my ping, Sorry about that.