Sometimes trends sit on the horizon for so long that people start to dismiss them. LBS is one of those. LBS stands for "Location Based Search" and it means just that - you can search for what you want, where you are, when you want it. Let me explain:
Searching is a necessary part of the Internet experience because of its massive size. Without Google or the other search engines, you'd be lost in the Web, literally. The promise of being able to search based on your location has been around for 20+ years. But it's never quite worked right. Until now. Or to be more precise, until about 2 to 3 years from now. While the mainstream population hasn't quite grasped its significance, LBS is all the venture capital community can talk about right now, and for good reason: it's going to be huge.
Here are some numbers to show the staggering growth that's already begun:
-Global mobile ad revenue: $1.3BN today, $7.6BN 2013 (Juniper)
-Phones worldwide: 2.6 billion phones with 17 million of those being GPS enabled worldwide today. By 2015 there are projected to be 4 billion phones worldwide, with 500 million being GPS enabled.
-In the US alone there are 250 million phones today, with 1.8 million of them GPS enabled. In 2015 the US will have 300MM and 80 million of them will be GPS enabled (staggering - and the US is the one of the least interesting growth players worldwide!)
-Converged Mobile Devices (Smartphones): 4MM US today / 9.6MM worldwide. In 2011, that number will skyrocket to 82MM worldwide
So what does all this mean? Why should you care? Let me give you an example. If you're standing on a street corner today, you could whip out your laptop or phone and search for things around you. The irony is that today, the Internet is everywhere virtually, yet it is nowhere physically. 20 years from now, that's going to seem very silly.
Imagine a world where, just like the TV remote can access your on-screen TV guide, your phone could access the Internet and harness it to the exact location you were standing. You phone would know what stores are around you, what their hours are, and what items they have in stock, what videos were taken and uploaded to YouTube near where you're standing, when the next Metro train is arriving at the station near you, and so much more. The Internet would become your personal guide wherever you go, all on a device you're already carrying with you today. A personal butler of sorts, that can tell you anything about anywhere you're standing or anywhere you're about to go. Want to know what restaurant your friends liked best that's within 5 blocks? No problem. Want to know what houses are for sale in the neighborhood you're driving in? No problem. And while you're at it, want to know what tenants that building across from you has, how long they've been there, how highly they're rated, and what businesses they're in? No problem.
To that end, I'm one of the co-founders of a company called PointAbout that hopefully you'll be hearing much more about in the next 18 months. We're running very fast and working very hard to harness this virtual Internet, and tame it into a personal guide for wherever you are and wherever you want to go next. Let's enjoy the ride!
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