Google’s Indoor Location: What Does it Mean?

Google’s Indoor Location: What Does it Mean?
This is the case for WiFi positioning provider Pole Star. According to its CEO Christian Carle, “Google's announcement creates great opportunities. It demonstrates to Pole Star's prospects and customers that indoor positioning and mapping have great value. For Pole Star, it reinforces the value of our high accuracy positioning technology. Google educates on "Where Am I?", Pole Star's technology enables step-by-step guidance for users and advanced marketing services to our customers. Moreover, this creates a need for apps with maps whose specific look and feel are able to convey the image of the brand.“

According to Todd Sherman Chief Marketing Officer at indoor map vendor Point Inside, Google is silently building a system that is threatening retailers because it could easily allow in-store marketing from competitors.

He wrote in a blog post: “Google introduced indoor maps inside the new Google Maps 6.0 for Android last week. We did a simple experiment. As a shopper, we zoomed into one of the indoor maps of a local Home Depot and searched for “paint.” We were automatically repositioned to the Lowe’s hardware store down the road. Not what we – or Home Depot – expected.“

“A customer inside a store is a high-value target for advertisers and a lucrative revenue opportunity for Google. It is likely that Google’s indoor maps will operate with Google’s very successful AdWords model where algorithms decide which ads to present and are biased toward the highest bidder – which can easily be a competitor.“

Google’s Indoor Location: What Does it Mean?
The key here is that indoor location is one of the technologies where brick & mortar players collides with the web giants. Everything indicates there will be a battle over who is going to own the smartphone experience in-store and in-mall.

To some extend it is not very different of the battle launched by Amazon against brick and mortar stores with its price check app that is offering a 5 percent discount on any product scanned at a retail location.

Small players in the indoor location market might therefore find a good business working with retailers to enable their own indoor maps and navigation applications that will compete with Google products.

“Still at a nascent stage“
Nevertheless, this market is still at its very early days; even Google does not have much to offer yet with only a few location mapped.

As noticed by Patrick Connelly, analyst with ABI Research, “A tranche of new technologies from CSR, Nokia, Google, Ericsson, Mexens Technology, NextNav, and Boeing have all been launched over the last three months to help unlock the potential of indoor location and marketing. However, it will take a few years for these technologies to proliferate; indoor mapping has yet to reach anywhere near a critical mass and the ability to build relevant indoor information, marketing, and advertising is still at a nascent stage.“

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Tuesday, December 20th 2011

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