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Industry Trends

Google Launches Locator For Non-GPS Mobile Phones

By December 3, 2007July 30th, 20238 Comments

My Location launched by Google enables phones without an in-built GPS to be used as locators. Google aims to tap a large chunk of the mobile market through this new mobile tracking system.

At present, an estimated 85 percent of mobile phone handsets do not include in-built GPS systems. Converting a simple, useful application like Google Maps into a desirable feature (i.e. GPS) is a smart way to prompt users to adopt Google technology on their mobile devices.

Google Mobile Maps + My Location

My Location vs. GPS

My Location provides indoor coverage. Its battery consumption is low and its location tracking service is faster than GPS. On the other hand, GPS systems are much more accurate and can track down the location of a user to a within 10 meters or less. Google’s tracking system does not show this level of precision. Google have stated that users can be traced within a range of 400 meters to 5 kilometers of their exact location.

In order to put Google’s pseudo-GPS accuracy in perspective, consider this: In a city like London, a distance of +/- 400 metres could cover an area serviced by three different tube stations! It may be easy to locate a user’s neighbourhood through My Location, but quite a task to navigate the city streets.

Privacy Concerns

Google has addressed privacy concerns at the outset. However, in spite of assurances from Steve Lee, Google’s Mobile Maps product manager, that My Location won’t collect “revealing” personal information, it remains to be seen how true Google stay to their promise. My Location presents the means through which Google can enter the realm of location-based advertising. Google are rather unlikely to miss an opportunity to capitalise on this by selling location-specific mobile ads.

My Location can be quite a handy utility tool but there are a few loopholes that Google needs to close quickly. The backing database of My Location is not yet ready. To avoid privacy related issues and potential mobile spam, Google will also need to take care that the privacy of its users is respected. Most importantly, though, Google need to improve the level of accuracy to make the tool useful to city dwellers, who will end up being the main adopters of such technology.

For those interested in learning more about the technology behind My Location, Google has created this nifty little video: