Picture this. You are walking down the street on a hot summer day and all of a sudden your cell phone starts buzzing. There is a message from [697289] aka MYSBUX. You open up the message and it says:

“Hey {insert your name here} it’s Becky from Starbucks, we are 150 feet away on Main and Ocean. Come in for an ice blended mocha and get 10% off, just show this message”.

Now I know you are probably thinking “Ya and I bet Tom Cruise is going to be serving me”. This might sound like something out of Minority Report, but this technology is already here. It’s called Location Based Services aka LBS. Read the full definition at Wikipedia.

Before I explain how it all works, please note this service is not something Starbucks has in place today. I have no idea whether or not they will ever have a program like this, but if they did, a few things need to happen:

1.) You need to enroll in Starbucks’ LBS program. This would most likely be done via their website or at the store itself at a web kiosk.

2.) You would give them your personal information such as your cell phone number, first name and what your favorite drinks are.

3.) After the data above is submitted, Starbucks would immediately send you a text message. The message would require you text back the word “yes” to confirm your LBS subscription.

Once the 3 steps above have been completed, Starbucks can now use location based technology to provide you with geographically based offers and incentives. Just imagine all of the other brands out there that can provide similar services McDonalds, Virgin Mega Store, House of Blues?

LBS initially began when Congress passed a law in late 2004 to assist 911 and emergency services by requiring cell phone carriers (Cingular, Verizon etc..) to be able to triangulate the location of a cell phone user within 150 yards. The law was very controversial because it also meant that people could be tracked without their knowledge. Big brother is watching!

It was only a matter of time before commercial applications for LBS started to open up. I am sure many of you are familiar with Helios’ new Buddy Beacon system, where you can allow your friends to view where you are. Although this is more GPS technology than cell tower triangulation, it is still a great example of a location based service for social networking. However while I am told that Buddy Beacon is a mixture of GPS and triangulation, it is a perfect example of a commercial LBS service. Think of this as Peer-to-peer LBS. Soon companies like Starbucks will start to use LBS to drive traffic into their store in real-time.

LBS is a marketer’s dream. If done right, I believe it will be incredibly successful. If abused, it could turn a lot of people off very quickly. Fortunately, large companies like Starbucks is going to do things right because they don’t want to alienate their large user base. They are going to make sure that a.) they have your permission b.) they figured out your interests (i.e. Ice blended mocha) and c.) they only send you timely and relevant information (i.e. they know it’s a hot day and you haven’t received an LBS offer in less than 30 days). For LBS to be successful it needs to be permission based, relevant, and timely.

Excited yet? At this point, you probably asking yourself “So Jared, when can we get started?” Well you have a bit longer to wait True LBS for commercial marketing applications (via cell tower triangulation) is still probably 18 to 24 months out. Look for GPS location based technology to appear faster as more and more handsets come equipped with GPS.

I love using the word “future proof”. There are so many technological advances going on these days that as a user it’s almost impossible to keep up. Fortunately, mobileStorm’s products and services are designed to be “future proof” because our R&D department is constantly evaluating new technologies like LBS that can benefit our clients. I imagine we will announce the launch of Stun!’s LBS functionality the next time you are walking down Sunset Boulevard, lets say within 150 yards of 6565.

Jared Reitzin
mobileStorm Inc.
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