You might not be the next Foursquare, but this space is huge (196 million miles, to be precise).
At South by Southwest Interactive this year, one couldn't walk 10 feet without hearing about a new app that connected you to people, places, or deals near your present location. Many, like the location-aware app game Dokobots, use Foursquare as a template. Others, such as Yobongo or Meet Gatsby, match users up with people nearby to chat with, ask advice from, or meet.
As smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, it only makes sense. There's ample room for, as a venture capitalist might say, medicine, vitamins, and candy in this space. Helpful apps like those that can find the most inexpensive gasoline in an area (such as GasBuddy, Cheap Gas!, Local Gas Prices), ones that can locate deals nearby (Foursquare, Dealmap, RedLaser), and geo-games (Turfwars, Seek 'n' Spell, Geocaching) are all ripe areas. One can argue that this is just part of the increasingly apparent start-up bubble? But can you make it big—and create something cool—if you have a great idea (oh, and passion, skills, and funding)? All signs point to yes.
By the Numbers:
Percent of adults who go online with their mobile phone who use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share locations with friends and find others nearby, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life project
Percent of all online adults ages 18 to 29 who use location-based services, according to Pew
Expected revenue for mobile location-based services by 2014, according to a report by Juniper Research
Number of downloads from the mobile App store in 2009 and expected downloads in 2015, respectively, according to Juniper Research
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio