Special Kelsey Group Presentation: The 3G iPhone: Local Search Demos

Aug 21, 2008 - 3:27 pm 1 by

By the time SES San Jose rolls around, we will have seen a torrent of application development for the 3G iPhone. Mobile local search will finally get its due, with built-in GPS functionality, combined with a feature set and price point that are mainstream-friendly. This session will get a first-hand look at how companies in the local search space are making good use of the iPhone's open development standards. Whether the search is for a restaurant, a flat screen television, or a crescent wrench, we'll see the applications that will lead the way for the next generation of local search on the mobile device. Moderator:

* Michael Boland, Senior Analyst, The Kelsey Group


* Ethan Lowry, Co-founder, UrbanSpoon * Scott Dunlap, CEO, NearbyNow * Ryan Sarver, Director of Consumer Products, Skyhook Wireless * Siva V. Kumar, Founder & CEO, TheFind.com * Sonia McFarland, Head of Business Development, Yelp

Mobile local search is becoming more mainstream with new smarter phones like the iPhones. Third party application development is a great initiative moving forward in local mobile search.

First up is Ryan Sarver from Skyhook.

Skyhook is a behind the scenes product. GPS has been around on phones, but not used for location based apps till recently. Skyhook does Wi-fi based positioning. Instead of satellites for reference, uses 56,000,000 Wi-fi access points to identify location. Needs density to work - urban and indoor areas. Uses triangulation.

Consumer ready location - can return location much faster than GPS. Works indoors, and in cell phone dead spots.

Shows video of Steve Jobs plugging the product!

Looked at the apps in the store, and identified which Apps using GPS. Huge amount of apps using location, even AP news to serve local news.

Next up is Ethan from Urban Spoon.

Helps people find restaurants using the mobile phone. Pulls together reviews from critics, bloggers, etc. Wondered how could use search engines to create a business without spending a dime on marketing. On the web, Google and others are the natural gateway to find info on the web. Different story on the phone. Challenge to get traffic on phone without spending much money. Along comes the iPhone with location awareness.

The app store looks like the net looked years ago. Only a few thousand apps. Small pool. Can get noticed easier. Wanted to make something that would be fun and practical and toy like. The problem set to solve was indecision where to eat. The idea was to create a magic 8 ball to find a restaurant. The publicity has been great thus far, and over 500,000 downloads. A quick demo - first identifies location. Shake the phone and spins a slot machine that suggests a restaurant. Can tailor experience by price, cuisine, location. Keep shaking it to find a restaurant you like, and then shows you more info such as reviews, phone number, map, address, email to friend, and tweet. Not truly random, skewed based on popularity of restaurant. Also a social element to see what your friends like.

Scott from NearByNow is up next.

Nearbynow takes product data from stores across the US and geolocates them. Has a concierge service that will have someone call the store to locate the product. Developed two iPhone apps around this. One is a shopping mall map application. Common among iPhone users is to take photos of products in malls and get feedback from friends. iPhone users are in a higher income bracket, are more fashion forward, and more likely to buy products at full price. Business model is driving leads to stores.

With the new app, you can take a photo of friends trying items on, store displays, etc. and can send to a contact group with a message. When taking the photo, it identifies the store using the location based feature. Retailers get excited when see what people are photographing in their stores. Lots of photos of people asking interesting questions such as "is this girl cute", "should I ask him out". Works on other phones besides iPhones. Other features include locating products in other stores, and similar products based on tags.

Siva from TheFind.com is up next.

TheFind.com is a search engine. What they do is shopping search that comprises local and online products. They have a crawler that only looks at shopping sites. Crawl them very deeply, and there are 500,000 approximately. Index has roughly 250 million products. Also crawls the address location of the stores. Map the products with the store locations. Can search for "ugg boots" in Cupertino, etc. You can use the site as a Yellow pages or check inventory from Krillion and Nearbynow's concierge service.

Application for iPhone is still being approved, not out yet. First thing the app does is take the location of the phone. Then maps all the stores around you. Then can conduct a search. The map changes and shows store icons that carry the product. Also has comparison price feature built in, where you can cross reference eBay and other retailers.

Sonia from Yelp is up last.

Yelp is a local content community network site, as well as review site. 3.5 million reviews. Restaurants are 1/3 of content. Boutiques, cafes, spas, and other types of business are the bulk.

Demos the iPhone app. Searches "coffee wifi". Shows results sorted by distance. Get photo of the business, and status if still open. Can browse reviews. User activity is a big part of who to trust when reading reviews. Alternatively, you can use maps to browse local businesses. Can filter search results by distance, price, etc. Next she queries "hair salon San Francisco". Shows us filtering by neighborhood feature.

That's all.

Contributed by Avi Wilensky of Promediacorp.


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