Self localization on non-GPS enabled mobile phones isn’t new. Google Maps Mobile does it, and the the US cell carriers Helio and Sprint have added services like Buddy Beacon or Loopt, which even let you locate your friends. Yet another service has launched in Germany called NowHere. I stumbled across an ad for their service on Facebook today and immediately tried it out.
So let’s start with my personal expectations first. The ad promised to “localize your friends via mobile phone and find out where they hang out – easily and free”. So that sounded interesting.
After registering on a rather dry looking site and confirming by SMS I want to be located with NowHere, I was keen to find out how I can find or add friends. But the only option given to me was a search form. No way to access friends I’m already connected with on other social communities or even run a match with my address book. I also didn’t find out how to use the service on my mobile. Wasn’t the promise of the ad to localize friends via mobile phone? Or did they mean the localization happens utilizing my friends’ mobile phone, not necessarily me being able to localize them using my phone?? Oh well.
So I’m left with locating myself in front of my laptop. And while I do this the pin marker often appears miles from my actual location. So in terms of proximity the location is more on a city level than on a street level. Maybe NowHere should take a peak at how the guys at Google display the “My Location” pin on Goggle Maps Mobile and nicely manage the user expectation of how exact the location is.
And then, what do you do with a city level location? Is this suitable for a service targeted at a young, urban user base – who want to find out where their friends hang out? Or should NowHere think about targeting business users – who are more interested to find out who of their peers are in town today. (If the latter is the case, then move advertising from Facebook to LinkedIn or Xing!)
My view is that NowHere seems to got the technology side to work, but needs a better way of making this an actual marketable product. One first step might be to try and tightly integrate into existing social networks, so NowHere users are not required to built up yet another friends list.