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Today, Apple announced that it will support an iOS5 only friend/family location sharing facility. At the time of writing the exact mechanisms were unclear, but given that some Apple users trust its products and services instinctively, failure of this feature would be a clear indication consumers are not ready for this and other pervasive LBS.

Instead of implicitly extracting location data from users, through terms and conditions and cleverly placed disclaimers, tech companies need to get the user get involved. Apple’s new location sharing application will have a number of user/parental-defined controls, which will restrict the whos, wheres and whens. The concept of explicit location data extraction is discussed in detail in ABI’s report, “Location Analytics & Privacy”. There is no better way to do this than to give users full control on how location data is shared and used. It is our belief, that if this is implemented correctly, the vast majority will embrace location and the variety of extremely beneficial applications which it enables.
From Apple’s point of view, this could represent a reversal of location fortunes, going from locationgate to cherished family protection in one application. It will also double as a phone finder application and could even be used for fleet/employee management. It also enables Apple to remain competitive with the likes of Google’s Latitude services. A major plus for Apple, is its disproportionately large installed base of early adopters who are familiar with applications like Foursquare, more comfortable with the idea of sharing location.and will give Apple every chance to succeed on this.
While this is something we kind of expected, having forecast it in our report, “LBS: Carriers vs Application Stores”, I have the same uneasy feeling as I do when watching footballers rolling around on pitches - are they making too much of it? Is this and Siri really the two big new features on Apple 4s? Does location really matter that much to Apple? It’s not even a new idea with the LBS path paved with location sharing has-beens.
Either way, if this fails either due to privacy fears or the lack of real benefit for many users, alarm bells should be ringing at every LBS developer. If it is a success, its limitation to iOS5 users means that for once this will be case of rising waters floating all boats. Apple has a history of getting it right so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
As for Siri, a friend was only discussing last week that the person that can properly solve ASR and STT technology will be very rich.Consideringthat Google hasn’t masteredASR and STTyet, given the time, effort and money it has spent, Iwill be veryimpresed if Apple has in a way that works and is practical for users.

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