What would happen if the Internet knew where you were?

Tom Coates took the stage today at ETech to announce the developer availability of Fire Eagle.

Fire Eagle is a location storage service. You tell Fire Eagle where you are, and then Fire Eagle can act as your location broker for other services that might want your location information.

It’s like PayPal for your location.

When I asked Tom to explain what Fire Eagle was he replied, “What got me excited about Fire Eagle was the idea that the Internet might be really interesting if it knew where I was.” The video of his ETech presentation is here:

People have been talking about how the advertising model would change in a location-aware world for years. There are countless scenarios for improving the way marketers can talk to people if they know where they are at a particular moment in time.

Social networking is an obvious winner, as well. If services like Facebook or MySpace knew where your friends were that would certainly create some interesting new ways to interact with people.

Every day tasks could change dramatically, too.

Let’s say you need gas for the car. You pull up the handy local gas ticker on your phone which shows the nearest stations and compares prices.

Then maybe you decide to go for a coffee…Are any of your friends out and about? Ping Fire Eagle. You learn that an ex-girlfriend is at the local cafe around the corner, so you go to Starbucks instead.

Now, not everyone has a GPS or wifi-enabled device. And developers will require a little time before they uncover the best uses for this kind of interaction model. However, there are already a few partners working on neat integrations, like Dopplr, for example. And Erica Sadun already built an iPhone hack that will automatically ping Fire Eagle with your location.

Online media today is less about hosting web sites that push out HTML pages every day. It’s real power is derived from treating media as a service or rather about helping data find data. Fire Eagle is a great model of this world.

Fire Eagle has to be one of the most promising applications to come along in a while, in my opinion.

A big congrats to the Fire Eagle team!

7 thoughts on “What would happen if the Internet knew where you were?”

  1. Matt,

    I am founder of a startup in this area;


    And frankly I don’t understand the need for a location broker or any sort of intermediary in this space? For two reasons:

    1. Mosts sevvices are pretty good now at working this out themselves via IP -> location tools.

    2. User agents on GPS aware devices could easily provide the option of revealing locations to services. infact i think this is already happening.


  2. “What would happen if the Internet knew where you were?”

    Absolutely nothing – except you lunatics would start twittering on about it, creating yet more internet hype.

  3. “You learn that an ex-girlfriend is at the local cafe around the corner, so you go to Starbucks instead.”

    Never going to happen. Your ex-girlfriend would obviously want to block you from knowing this information. And if there was no way for her to do this, she would cancel her Fire Eagle account.

  4. Hi Matt,
    good question. Back here in Norway, there are several services for mobile phones that are based on location. There’s no lack of good ideas on functionality and business cases, but most of them fail because of one simple fact: most subscribers don’t want to tell others where they are. In your example: I would defintely go to starbucks if my ex girlfriend was at that local cafe I was heading to. But I guess my ex-girlfriend wouldn’t want me to know where she was in the first place.

    Anyway: personalized services based on where I am located in terms of showing me relevant sites, relevant ads, relevant content based on my location would be great, and add new dimensions to the internet. Most of them is yet to be made. Even google maps is only showing me a friction of what I want to know about my surroundings, especially when I’m travelling.

  5. You can only get an estimate, more precise, if you use ip lookups, locators or something else you will get the location of the Internet service provider.

    You can use http://www.ipgp.net , you will get country, city, and a map with location, but it is not exact.

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