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LBS & tourism through the eyes of a postgrad marketing student in New Zealand.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

MSN local search & more WiFi positioning

Via CNet: MSN to offer local-search service
"Microsoft's MSN plans to launch on Tuesday a test version of a local-search function that integrates mapping and satellite image technology to help consumers pinpoint nearby stores and other locales.

(...)

Local search is particularly convenient for mobile phone users, many of whom are in their car or otherwise in transit and are looking for directions and other information on the fly.

The launch of MSN Virtual Earth follows on the heels of new local search and mapping tools from rivals. Google has integrated satellite mapping into local search through its acquisition of Keyhole. It also began testing a service last week to let mobile phone users search for Web sites optimized for mobile phones. In addition, the company has partnered with BellSouth, SME Global and Leads.com to fine-tune its local search. "
Well, it seems more and more like Microsoft do have some sort of a plan for LBS! As I've said, it would be very easy for them to link this with the Windows Mobile platform to make it a really seamless user experience... Unfortunately local search on MSN doesn't seem to work very well at the moment if you're in New Zealand - I typed in 'pizza' and the initial results displayed assumed that I was in New South Wales, Australia! After I specified my location as Auckland, the results remained unchanged and not one of them directed me to a local pizza place... Oh well, I guess it's still in beta, after all!

Also from CNet: Wi-Fi used for location services
"A Boston, Mass.-based start-up says it has developed software that uses Wi-Fi signals to pinpoint locations better than satellite-based global positioning systems can.

(...)

Morgan adds that GPS typically only locates things within a few hundred meters, whereas the Wi-Fi location system can get within 20 to 40 meters of an object. And because Wi-Fi routers are often deployed closer together in cities than cell towers are, it can also be more accurate than cellular-based location systems, he added."
Well, this would be great for a place like the Mauritius (the first country to have nationwide WiFi), but probably not so much New Zealand... Maybe just the Auckland CBD? It would certainly be a good way to trial some LBS tourism apps to begin with, anyway - kind of like how they are trialling GPS technology with the Link and the low-emission buses with the City Circuit - one day, I envisage Auckland being serviced by a fleet of timely, GPS-linked, low-emission buses. One day...

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