On Tuesday, I participated in an MIT-Stanford VLAB event focused on Location Awareness. The VLAB is a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting the growth and success of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures by connecting ideas, technology, and people. Gigi Wang, Hironmoy Paul, and team did a great job of putting together an excellent event.
Rajeev Chand, director of research for Rutberg & Company moderated the discussion. Sam Altman, CEO of Loopt kicked the session off with a fun overview of how location technology is fundamentally changing how we interact with our world.
My co-panelists were Michael Sharon, co-founder of Kamida (Kamida’s Socialight is featured in The Power of Mobility), Jodi Sherman Jahic, a principal at Voyager Capital, and Rick Withim, a business development manager for Nokia.
Bishop Auditorium at Stanford?s Graduate School of Business was packed for the event. Rajeev encouraged audience interaction, interspersing questions from the audience with the ones he had prepared.
Considering the panel participants, one of the more interesting questions of the evening was ?who owns my location information?? I argued that ?ownership? is the wrong concept since ?where someone is? does not fit the model for intellectual property ? information that can be owned. The real question is who can control how that information is used and who can make money from its use?
Carriers, device makers, and software developers may all have the opportunity to do something with information about location. Speaking from a carrier perspective, on one hand it is essential that we protect the privacy of the individual. On the other hand, if desired by the individual, we can enable new and powerful things to happen that create value for the individual.
I proposed that, if new value is created because the carrier enables it and because a software/service provider translates the location information into contextually-relevant value, then both should be able to make money in line with the value that was enabled/created.
As Sprint Nextel has demonstrated for years, being the most supportive and open to developers translates into value in many ways, most notably having the most valuable portfolio of location-based solutions for businesses has translated into market share leadership in business segments and loyalty from customers gaining value through LBS solutions. As we extend this openness and developer support in even more dimensions with our Xohm WiMax initiative, I imagine we will find even more ways that opening opportunities to others creates new value for us.