"They're more about keeping tabs on your friends; we focus more on community and meeting new people based on the places you go." - Brightkite
There's no doubt that mobile social networks are vying to be the next big thing for consumers as the mobile handset arena heats up. Plenty of services have gotten their feet wet, but haven't really made it outside of the early adopter crowd. So it comes as no surprise that early adopters and techies are wondering if mobiles services such as Loopt and Brightkite should be worried about Google's latest product: Google Latitude.
In one sentence, Latitude is Google's location awareness application. It's geared to take over a niche that's been dominated by other aforementioned services for quite sometime now. The million dollar bubble buster is whether the competition should be threatened. Short answer: no.
We recommend reading ReadWriteWeb's take on Latitude.
Keeping The Community: Different Strokes For Different Folks
In The Community is What Makes Social Networks Different), I said, "The community is the key to separating social networks."
This is why I'd still choose Brightkite over Latitude. For me, it's not about showing where I am to all of my friends and contacts. Quite frankly, the ones that can meet up with me are probably already there or on the way. How do I know? I checked my text messages, posted where I was going as my Facebook status, and made a few phone calls to those who could meet up. Neither I nor my friends need Latitude or Google to do this for us. Latitude might be a backwards way of being lazy if you ask me.
Brightkite introduces me to new people to hang out with. This may not be for everyone, but it's a great way for people to network right in their community. The amount of information available for specific check-in spots is amazing! I can see who's been there, how many times they've been there, check out their profile and see if we have similar interests. Hey, they might even be friends with me on Twitter! For this sole reason alone, Brightkite and other similar services have nothing to fear for now. In fact, they might want to thank Google.
Google Latitude Is Viral Marketing For The Location-Awareness Arena
Google is a worldwide brand. It's highly respected among people who would actually use Latitude. The entire situation puts way more light on mobile social networks and location awareness than the smaller players could ever do at this point. Google pushes this concept to mainstream internet users, just as Facebook has done with RSS via the News Feed. The usage of each service will be entirely different, but the concept is still the same at the core: connect wherever you are!
This could be looked at as viral marketing for location-awareness services. Google may or may not get the bigger market share, but there's no doubt that quite a few people may fill unfilled with Google Latitude and leave in search of more features or a different way of interacting with the same concept. Google could add these features in the future, but remains to be seen at this point. There's a lot of things that Google keeps putting on the backburner. In the long run Latitude could be one of them, making room for others to dominate the space.
Read more by Corvida Raven at SheGeeks.net.