A Feature of Latitude

Eventually, all early tech innovations become common features of larger tech innovations. It's a natural, often disruptive development in market maturation cycles.

In the LBS space, this happened first with infrastructure.  Early LBS gear innovations for wireless networks eventually bumped up against packaged infrastructure offerings with included mobile positioning centers as a feature of whole-system infrastructure offerings.    

Content was next. If you were developing an app in the early part of this decade, you recall the pains of licensing map data and GIS platforms directly.  You had to build your IT infrastructure backend to support mobile applications. It was an expensive process and major barrier to entry.  That all changed when the first commercial Web services platforms arose, eliminating commercial mapping content licensing stress, and turning these data into an Intel-inside kind of feature.  

Then, we saw tracking 'applications' become features of larger field force automation applications, where tracking was just a means to an end feature in support of larger service oriented architectures using many systems in concert to solve business mobility problems.  

Next, (and quite recently) we've seen dedicated GPS chipsets become features of full system-on-a-chip 3G offerings now including GPS by default in newer platforms.  

Then, (and also quite recently) we've watched mobile navigation 'applications' evolve from billed-for mobile consumables to become common features of mobility, now offered free, as a feature of a mobile data bundle - just like texting, browsing, and voicemail for example.  And, we've also seen point-of-interest/find-the nearest "apps" become a feature of Search (the Local variety). 

Now, mobile social networking 'applications' are becoming features too.  Seth Godin recently said:

Twitter is a protocol, of course, not a company or even a platform.

I think about this and Latitude in the same sentence, and I don't see a new Google friend-finder app (which btw is really addictive on Blackberry), but rather, I see a new feature; a feature of Google Maps for mobile and custom social networking tools yet to be built for our own corporate and personal networking purposes.