Glympse vs. Google Latitude in location sharing battle

If you look over to the right side of my blog you’ll see a Google Latitude component.

What does that do? It shares my location with you.

Why is that cool? Because now you’ll be able to watch as I head to Adobe’s offices to meet with the Flash team there this morning. You’ll also be able to see when I leave for New York later today and, hopefully, you’ll be able to see when I arrive in New York later tonight.

So?

I’ve found this to be a useful tool for my business. People can see when I’ll arrive places. I’ve used it a lot of times to meet up with people who are near me. Often those meetings happen on the fly. I see someone’s icon near where I am and I email or Twitter or call them and see if they wanna get together for coffee. It’s amazing how often they say yes.

Imagine if you were a business and had a fleet of trucks. You could see where they were located using this technology.

One thing, though, Google Latitude is almost unusable for me. It crashes all the time on my phone. See, they made some bad assumptions up front. Here’s why: their user testing showed that people really aren’t ready to share their location in public the way I am. Privacy is a HUGE concern to them.

This feedback was so consistent that they assumed no one would ever try to share with the world, the way I do. So they designed it to be used only with very small groups of people. For instance with your close family. I hear from the team that they didn’t test it with more than 100 friends (I already have more than three times that many, which causes it to crash).

That brings me to Glympse, which is launching this morning at the Where 2.0 Conference. Glympse goes the other way to solve that privacy problem: they put a time limit on it. So, now, you can send your boss, or even the public, a glimpse into your life and let people track you.

There’s a few things that are better about that approach. First, you don’t need to have Glympse on your PC to watch me drive toward your house (to really use Google Latitude we both need Latitude running). Second, since you know the Glympse will end in, say, two hours, you don’t get paranoid about privacy issues.

I wish I could do this for the public. There are times when I don’t want to share where I am with all of you. Sorry. Glympse does that better.

On the other hand, Google Latitude lets me see where a larger group of my friends is hanging out, which leads to those impromptu coffees which are very cool.

I wish both service would meld, because I like pieces of both approaches. Anyway, last night I uploaded a video demo I did with Glympse’s CEO, Bryan Trussel. Cool demo of Glympse.

Downsides to both services? The don’t work with all phones. I can run Latitude on my Nokia phone, but not my iPhone. Glympse is same, but is coming to iPhone soon.

So far I think Glympse’s approach is going to be better for most people. What do you think?

SXSW 2009 will be known as the "SMS & location explosion SXSW"

This week tons of people were asking me “what’s the ‘Twitter’ of this year’s SXSW conference. See, two years ago at SXSW Twitter exploded onto the scene.

Looking back at this year’s conference (pretty tough cause I partied a little too hard with my new friends at Rackspace) it’s clear that this year is going to be remembered for when location exploded onto the scene.

First, everyone’s iPhones didn’t work very well for the first two days of the conference. Turned out that AT&T’s network was overloaded. I met the guy who fixed much of that problem on Sunday (they doubled the network capacity and turned on some new wireless bandwidth). That reminded me of the “Twitter SXSW” when Twitter itself was slow and went down a few times during the show.

But, that’s not the reason why this will be remembered as the “SMS & location explosion SXSW.”

First, it’ll be all the talk about a new app that got its first hype here at SXSW: Foursquare. Techcrunch wrote that up today. What is it? It’s a social app that you report via SMS where you are and it uses that info to build a little game with your friends. Lots of people were talking about it.

When I visited Governor Rick Perry along with a couple of other bloggers Chris Brogan was watching me use Ourdoings to email photos in from my iPhone, which posts them to my friendfeed stream along with a map of where that photo was shot, and he said “why aren’t you using Pixelpipe?” That’s an iPhone app that lets you upload groups of photos when you find available bandwidth. He said it was very valuable to him at SXSW when the iPhone often had very little or no available bandwidth (inside the capital building while we were visiting the governor we had the same problem).

Another app that got some attention at SXSW was CONTXTS, which are mobile SMS business cards. Daniel Graf showed me this. He asked for my phone number, SMS’d that to a number that CONTXTS uses and instantly a note came to my phone with his contact info. Very cool and useful for networking at conferences.

Here, you can try it with my phone. It asked me to “TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO TXT SCOBLEIZER TO 50500.” Now you’ll see how it works and you’ll get my contact information sent back to you.

So, how about you? Did you see any cool location-based services used at SXSW for the first time? There were a ton, like Google Latitude, or Radar, from Tiny Pictures.

Why don’t we list the coolest ones here, or on my friendfeed link, which I’ll post shortly?