GeoWorld April 2012

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The Future Certainly Lies in Mobile Technology POSITION A BY TODD DANIELSON lthough I'm not going out on any limb with the title of this column, there are several recent milestones that reinforced the claim that mobile technologies, par- ticularly smartphones and pad comput- ers, are where (almost) all technology, including geotechnology, is headed. For example, Canalys Research announced in February 2012 that smartphones supplanted PCs in total shipments in 2011. Vendors shipped 488 million smartphones last year, com- pared to 415 million PCs, which includes laptops and pad devices. (Another market-research company, IDC, also found that smartphones supplanted PCs in shipments in 2011, but it didn't count pads in either category.) Some experts noted that smart- phones ship more units because they don't last as long. They either break or a "new and cooler" device arrives that techno-geeks must have. Also, most of those who have a smartphone also have a PC, so it's not like computers are being replaced (although that may happen more further down the road). Regardless, this is a crucial milestone that indicates how far the "telephone" has come. What once was a single- purpose device plugged into a wall now is a must-have mini-computer smartphone that more people have than basic cell phones. Times are changing rapidly. Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / AP R I L 2O12 Location Gaining Relevance Inadvertently corresponding with this GeoWorld issue on Mobility/GPS was the South by Southwest Interactive festival held in March 2012 in Austin, Texas. This is the "opening act" of the larger annual festival, and it focuses on "cutting edge" technologies before the longer-running music and film festivals take over the city. But the Interactive element is rapidly growing, with an estimated 20,000 in attendance. It gained major prominence in 2007 for being the event that launched Twitter into world consciousness. Another commonly referenced startup happened in 2009, when the location-based social- networking site Foursquare was launched (now with 15 million users). According to reports from the 2012 event, no major "breakthroughs" were expected, as it may have become too large for such lightning to be caught in a bottle again. But it seemed that the best responses were generated by companies in location-based services on mobile devices. For example, some of the contend- ers for the "hearts and minds" of the techneratti in Austin included Highlight,, Kismet and Geoloqi, which try to improve online social interactions by adding the element of location. Highlight uses smartphone location and social- media information to alert users when someone they know (or "should get to know") is near them. This is called "social discovery," and many experts believe it's the future of social interaction. "There's no denying that we now live in an increasingly mobile world," says Amber Case, CEO and founder of Geoloqi. "Geolocation has the potential to become an indispensable part of our lives." Beyond Techno-Geeks If my discussion of hipster technology events doesn't affect your opinions on the future of geotechnology, you can find some more-traditional aspects of mobile GIS on display in this magazine. In addi- tion to an interesting primer on GPS III, which will launch in 2014, there also are articles that focus on mobile workforces in Philadelphia and Wisconsin as well as an interesting piece on how mobility is changing all geotechnologies. The future is here in terms of mobile geotechnology. It really hit home for me just days ago, when I first used my new smartphone's free navigation service. After a few clicks and typing in one address, one of those pleasant voices accurately guided me 20 miles to my destination in an unfamiliar area. All I could say was, "Thank you." Mobility/GPS Special Issue

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