Geolocation is the identification of a physical location for a computer, mobile device or web site visitor. This location can be determined a number of different ways such as IP address, WiFi location, or device GPS coordinates.
As sales of laptops and internet enabled mobile devices increase, internet users are becoming more mobile. This makes it more important than ever to your marketing efforts to know where your potential customers are. Giving users information relevant to where they are at that particular moment makes a lot of sense. Especially as social networking becomes more prevalent, geolocation will make it easier to meet up with friends, check out recommended restaurants, find a coffee shop nearby.
Here’s an example: You have a mobile application from your bank. This app allows you to pay bills, check your balance and find the closest ATM all on your phone. In the past to find the closest ATMS, you would have had to enter an address or zip code. Not very convenient if you are in an unfamiliar area. Now, this app could use geolocation to determine where you are and the closest ATM to your current location. It could even give you directions.
Another example is Foursquare – a phone based application that allows users to “check-in” at different locations. Your location is then shared across your social networks allowing friends to know where you are and what you are doing. It adds a social element to geolocation, allowing you to share the places you go and encouraging friends to explore your favorite places.
In addition to these examples, Twitter and Facebook are also currently developing location-based services.