MobilePeople and 'Local Discovery 2.0'

Lots of companies in the online local space have developed an app at this point: directory publishers, Yelp, Google and others. Then there are a host of companies that are mobile only: Geodelic, Aloqa, Where/uLocate and many others.

For traditional media and online publishers, mobile has quickly become a strategic part of the business with the expectation that it will only grow in importance and that an online-mobile strategy is critical for success "going forward." Just ask AT&T.

I recently did an evaluation (not published) of yellow pages iPhone apps. What I found was that there are some differentiated features but most of them are quite similar overall. MobilePeople calls this "Local discovery 1.0." Now, even at this early stage many companies are trying to figure out what's next; what is "Local discovery 2.0"?

One incorrect answer to that question is "augmented reality." AR is a piece potentially of an overall local user experience, along the lines of what Yelp has done with monocle. As it matures it will become more and more interesting. But right now it's quite limited and awkward in most respects. 

MobilePeople is well established in Europe and Asia but has less visibility in the US. As part of its informal US market launch the company spoke to us about its vision for "Local discovery 2.0." MobilePeople is building this on its "Liquid" platform and offering a range of interfaces and user experiences, depending on the publisher and potential use case.

What we saw was a prototype demo that was impressive; it combines some fairly radical interface options with back end innovations. The ultimate idea is that, beyond location, there are layers of context that come into play in offering content or search results to users. 

The company described a range of very interesting applications for its technology for different publisher types (directories, magazines, others). These are less about narrowly defined location-based searches -- or simply duplicating Internet experiences on the small screen -- and more about a holistic experience that travels with the end user throughout the day, fulfilling a range of tasks and objectives in the demo we saw.

It will be very interesting to see the practical implementations of this as they start to roll out.