Location Aggregation Buzz, In the Smartphone Era?

There's a strange resurgence of developer interest in Cell-ID location as of late, with a bunch of mobile social software startups claiming to have cracked the control-code to offer up aggregated mobile location data in the same way Verisign, mobile365, mblox, and others made global inter-network messaging work for content distribution.  Scratching my head and stupefied why this remains a contentious topic in the location-rich smartphone era, I've called some folks to ask why I'm watching a redux. The one consistent bit of feedback I've received points to a new disruptive culprit offering charge-free alternatives with the support of carriers embracing a Telco 2.0 model to license base station data to them for subsequent resale or exposure to developers. For them, licensing costs are written off as cost-of-doing-business expenses, while other smaller aggregator providers are hopeful to markup the expense and monetize a margin from a wholesale-mediator model to developers. I'm skeptical about the later B2B model because 1) I tried it myself five years ago as part of a commercial Web services offering and it flopped, and 2) the former is available for free and it's difficult to charge for something when your larger, more credible competitor is giving it away.