On the trail of location-based profits (2)

08:32, January 10, 2011      

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By Zhu Shenshen | 2011-1-10 | NEWSPAPER EDITION

Social networks are very popular in China and considered to be a major growth sector in the online industry. Location-based services provide a useful extension of such sites, enabling interaction between people, and people and businesses to be conducted with more precision and relevancy, industry officials said.

"In China, it's only a matter of time before the large Chinese social networks start to roll out their own location-based services to retain existing users and expand their bases," said Jeff Lin, senior vice president and managing director of GyPSii, an independent location-based service developer from the Netherlands with localized products in China.

"Location-based services can sometimes act like a sword or a shield for social-networking sites," Lin said. "You might have to own one to get ahead of your competitors, or to defend yourself because it's dangerous if your competitors are armed but you are not."

More than 30 percent of mobile location users spend more than an hour on the services each day on average, according to 3G.cn, a mobile Internet service provider.

"With location-based services, users can find people who live nearby you and invite them to meet for coffee," said Lou. "It's always interesting to share things like your own restaurant reviews with friends."

Jiepang is now allied with Kaixin001.com - dubbed "China's Facebook." Sina Microblog, which provides Twitter-like services and has 75 million users, is also seeking partners.

"It's like a match to run money," said one industry insider. "The firm who survives is the winner."

GyPSii, in contrast to other developers of location-based services and providers of social networks, is pursuing a shortcut in its quest for profits. The firm has built a mobile advertising platform that allows businesses to view real time data analysis of its target customers, such as buying behavior, group segmentation, user preference and most frequented locations throughout the day. This platform truly connects the businesses with its target customers.

"Business has no problem in paying to get access and promote its products and services to its target customers if it sees value in return," Lin said. "We have started to generate income from our mobile advertising platform, although still in very early stages, but we believe the future of mobile advertising is very bright."

Location-based games, with 3D street pictures and players' whereabouts, will also be a hot spot in 2011, thanks to game giants' possible investment, according to Ren.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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