The 3rd Wave of Mobile Location

I've been thinking about waves - waves of growth & decline over time. Technology trends move in waves. And, nothing lasts forever in tech...  All technologies are eventually displaced by newer ones. The Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages are human history proofs we can reference in the Archaeological record.  Like early human tools, Mobile Location has also gone through waves of growth & decline - albeit at a much more accelerated pace. 

Mobile Location - its infrastructure, applications, and services - is relatively younger and historically different than the computing industry, and therefore its history timeline mapping deserves a holistic historical perspective representative of both communications & wireless connectivity influences along with traditional computing influences. Here's an attempt to capture this:    


It's perhaps academic, but the neonatal years between 1997 and 2002 do represent a period of growth. The Cellular Phone Wave represents a time when infrastructure, applications, and services were all brought together within one environment. "Location-Based Services" (as they were called) were things usually conceived and marketed alongside "Voice Plans", "Ring Tones", and "Messaging Plans" - a primitive, myopic view of the possible... The Cellular Phone Wave's decline was marked by the Feature Phone Wave, which changed the way (and pace) people built Mobile Location into applications & services.  

The Feature Phone Wave and its growth from 2002 to about 2007 represents a period when the first GPS enabled mobile phones became available and when Mobile Location became openly accessible through devices.  "Location-Based Services" were still called such, but creative & diverse influences introduced new perspectives that helped people save time, helped them get from here to there, and helped them offer better services to others.  This was a great growth period that ended abruptly (fell off a cliff) when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.

The iPhone was a game-changing technology that not only changed computing and applied stress to the PC industry, but it simultaneously changed wireless & mobile technology as well.  The iPhone marked the beginning of the Smartphone Wave - a wave of growth we are now immersed in. Mobile Location growth inside this wave is at unprecedented levels. With its influence beyond the Smartphone, Mobility is now built into every new digital product & service, where Mobility = Location + Time + Connectivity. New digital products created today are part of a global network of mobility sensors producing massive amounts of spatiotemporal data, where older geospatial approaches of mapping, locating, finding, and tracking are evolving to modeling, understanding, predicting, and informing - creating new actionable insights & intelligence from spatiotemporal observations. It's an exciting time.