Could Google’s Latitude Be A Twitter Killer?

Great article on Mashable yesterday about Google’s new Latitude and the affect it might have on Twitter.

When Google announced Latitude, the company’s new geo-location tool, all the talk was about the technology opening doors for location-based ads in the years ahead. While we probably can be sure that those ads are coming, the big question is whether Latitude might be Google’s secret “Twitter Killer”.

From the article:

I’ve been playing around with Google Latitude on and off since this morning. I must admit, it’s pretty cool and demonstrates why geolocation is interesting, and services like Loopt and BrightKite have found some success as early players in the space.

But as myself and a lot of other commenters have noted, the problem with Latitude is that Google contacts really aren’t your actual social network in most cases, primarily because of the quirky way in which Gmail adds people to your buddy list. Nonetheless, Google Latitude has me thinking about geolocation again, and more aptly, why the big social networking players – Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter – aren’t doing anything with it.

Why It Would Be Great

Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter (and formerly MySpace … it still is for lots of other people), is an actual representation of my social network. And, with the ability to sort contacts into different groups (personal friends, colleagues, high school classmates, etc), the privacy concerns that come with any geolocation-based social network are mostly alleviated. Status updates are already built in (Latitude comes with a Status feature too), adding useful data when you see where your friends are. Essentially, it becomes the automated tweet-up.

The only thing seemingly missing from the big social networks is mapping and the decreasingly complex technological barriers it takes to do geolocation. But Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Mapquest all have APIs for that.

From eWeek:

“This means software developers will build applications around the triangulation of information; personal behaviors and preferences, your social group of friends and family and your location,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester Research senior analyst in social computing and the author of the blog Web Strategy. “I’m thinking about [Google’s mobile phone platform] Android and how it connects to it–you can expect Android to come with Latitude as a default software feature in the future.”

Latitude is an application that gives users the ability to track friends, family and colleagues via Google Maps on a PC or mobile device. Already available on BlackBerry, S60 and Windows Mobile devices, and coming soon to the Apple iPhone through Google Mobile App, Owyang said Latitude in its current form is merely a stepping stone, and not yet the be-all-end-all of mobile social networking.

“Google’s a little bit slower to come into this space, but they want to deliver things with quality,” he said, admitting that he couldn’t actually get Latitide to work on his mobile phone. “It might just be a Nokia thing, though,” he suggests. Owyang is referring to companies such as Loopt, which provides a cell phone-based GPS sharing system that allows users to visualize one another using their cell phones and share information. “This technology isn’t anything that new, they just haven’t put it all together yet.”

When that happens—which Owyang predicts is unlikely to occur before the end of the year or perhaps even two years, the future of contextual, location-based marketing and advertising arrives. “Say you and your friends from out of town are in a location in a city and you want to meet up; when this all comes together, it will recommend a restaurant based on what it knows about you and your friends’ preferences,” he said. “Like a good Thai restaurant.”

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