This is beginning to look like the year in which location based services (LBS) will break out big time. In the past week, we’ve heard that the Dash Express will feature Yahoo! Local search, and that the Garmin StreetPilot c580 and Garmin nuvi 680 will both feature MSN Direct, giving access to traffic, weather, gas prices and movie times (see accompanying screen shots).
Other announcements are coming fast and furious. Garmin, which has used XM Radio’s weather service and and now MSN Direct’s, yesterday announced the acquisition of LBS provider Digital Cyclone. This gives them a developed weather product for cell phones and aviation, more options in personal navigation devices, and additional distribution channels in the wireless telecommunications industry.
Meanwhile, XM Radio has announced a "personal weather tracking system" that will display real-time weather conditions between your current location and your final destination. This is part of a "concept vehicle" being shown at CES next week, though they say the technology will be available in the summer of 2007, so perhaps we’ll see this in automotive GPS products before long.
NAVTEQ, best known for providing the highway maps and POI data found in many auto GPS receivers , is getting into the LBS game as well. NAVTEQ Discover Cities includes Fodor’s Travel Guide information for restaurants, hotels, shopping, nightlife and arts, and tourist attractions. Data sets include New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and San Diego. Hmm, I wonder what happened to the NAVTEQ / Zagat partnership.
The NAVTEQ Discover Cities program and Yahoo! Local search on Dash Express should both give us access to restaurant reviews, etc. And speaking of Yahoo!, Motley Fool wants to know how Google will enter the GPS and LBS local search market. Good question.