LBS for the Masses: Connecting the Dots

LBS for the Masses: Connecting the Dots

Watching a rare moment of TV the other night, I caught a glimpse of a commercial for Boost Mobile, a US mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that launched a friend finder application this summer called Boost Loopt. The service's tagline uses an oft-heard phrase in American hip hop culture, "Where You At?".

I found the commercial a bit strange at first, with two characters dressed in what looked like fat suits, one in green, the other in orange, calling each other, shouting the tagline. They were perfect spheres with heads and feet, like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka, when she eats the candy and turns into a blueberry.

Then, the penny dropped. They were the dots on the map themselves, orange and green. I must be getting old. How else to be playful and yet get the idea of people as points on a map than to show them as, well, points?

Boost, and the other US operator to recently add friend finders via GPS, Helio, are not your average operators. Both are targeted at younger customers, mostly urban, very social. Helio's Buddy Beacon launched with the intro of a new handset, the Drift, in November, and Boost has now taken the initiative to raise the marketing stakes due to the competition.

Boost reportedly has 40,000 users for Loopt as a result of its trial of the service. Opinions vary about the speed and angle of ascent of the mobile GPS market, but what's clear is that US operators are now comfortable enough to start pushing it to a tech-hungry younger user market, de-emphasizing the technology, and amping up the social dimension in their marketing–even if that means being hyper-literal in doing so.

(via: Smartspace)

| December 22nd, 2006 | Posted in Location Based Services |