Where 2.0 has become a launch-pad for new geo products. As a sign of the times, these announcements focus on APIs rather than the usual feature-increments or partnership propaganda (we geo folk always prefer the Walk over the Talk). Here’s a handy reference list in no particular order:
The free service “simplifies the process of de-duplicating and matching content like business listings, reviews, check-ins and events to their true location”; it is the first of what will certainly be many Local Disambiguation platforms we see that attempt to generate concordance between how Places are called. With this product Placecast appears to be moving out of the ad-world and into the geo platforms space. Details are few as the API is not yet out the door, but you can sign up in advance at the link above.
An all-in-one iphone SDK that brings location to social sharing applications: “in a Local Faves-enabled wine app, users could check-in to a restaurant via the wine they are drinking, giving the app developer the opportunity to broadcast user location” or allow users to “see where around the world their favorite song is playing, or view all songs playing locally”. I’m not yet convinced that the overly broad use cases demonstrate anything otherwise unavailable to developers, but this product (and the company’s recent launch of SpotRank) shows how Skyhook is positioning itself in the center of the geoweb to become a critical provider of location context. The API comes out ‘mid April'; register in advance here.
One for the toponymsters: a geographic Rosetta Stone” that lets you convert between GeoPlanet WOEIDs (Yahoo’s open place-based identification namespace) and other geographic naming systems including, most notably, Geonames. A step in the right direction from my geo alma mater, but I would hope that Yahoo is planning to do something very similar with Business Listings if it is to avoid being out-maneuvered entirely in the immediately forthcoming Social/Local landscape.
SimpleGeo is only about a year old now but is successfully positioning itself as a dead-easy geo service and recently boosted its small team with a few seasoned hires. The nascent API is available via XML and JSON and includes supported iphone SDK and PHP PEAR libs. The functionality is basic, but growing: object-based point storage, proximity lookups, reverse geocoding (in US) and spatiotemporal headcounts via Skyhook’s SpotRank (above). Expect more services to be integrated via their recent deCarta and Quova deals. Use it now for free for up to 1m calls-per-month, and then scale up as far as Amazon’s S3 will take you.
Have I missed any? (Let me know.) These products are the litmus of the geo sector: what we are seeing here is the importance of Business Listings as first-person reference (soon to obviate Yellow Pages entirely), the continued advent of simple-and-deep over shallow-and-feature-rich product methodologies, and the “virtuous circle of data,” where the use of these products generates value (data about us), which is exposed again through the API. Platform plays like these — not the next iPhone app — are what genuinely carry the sector forward.