The Internet is shifting. Search has become more than a tool. And location-based geo-tagging services are the future in advertising.
Jeff Pulver, cofounder of the Internet telecom company Vonage, views geo-tagging as a mash-up that gives people access to the immediate world around them in real time. They can choose whether or not to participate.
"Twitter's technology foreshadows real-time search and gives us an idea on how people will consume this type of information on the Web," Pulver says. "Geo-tagging shows us how the technology will provide pointers to the way we interpret this readily available information."
Pulver says geo-tagging teaches people about community, opportunity and commerce. In his view, these services, supported by companies like Foursquare, Gowalla, and GeoSentric, make events that happen in a person's immediate world more relevant.
Some suggest that Foursquare and Gowella could become the next real-time search, though today neither offer search-like functions similar to Twitter. On Foursquare and Gowalla, people need only to hit a "check-in" button rather than type a tweet.
Geo-tagging technologies won't remain standalone applications for long. Someone will build the technology into a permission-based personalized ad platform that not only knows your interest, but targets you based on location, too.
Pulver, who participated in Twitter's second round of funding, says business models for location-based services are more evolved than many other technologies today. Aside from Twitter, Foursquare and Gowalla, Pulver points to a company named GeoSentric, the makers of the GyPSii, a location-based social media platform. GeoSentric reported closing $11 million in venture capital funding this week, and just released an iPhone application called Tweetsii that combines tweets and geo-tagging technology.
Location-based services are new only to consumers. Carriers have promoted location-based services since the 1990s. What Pulver finds most interesting is that third-party software developers and consumers have begun creating applications so they can have services their way, rather than accept carriers pushing apps on them. "Back in the day when Wi-Fi first came out in the mid-'90s, it was institutionalized and all you had was this big telecom gear equipment, until someone consumerized it and started a revolution," Pulver says.