So I’ve been reading about a new startup this morning, Glympse, that’s launching in beta today. Available for Android currently, I can’t test it out because we’re still waiting for the Google-created operating system here in the Great White North (read: Canada), but the thinking behind Glympse is interesting. It’s really simple actually.
Glympse uses the T-Mobile G1’s GPS to find your location, then lets you send a link with that location to a friend, family member, business associate and so on. When the intended recipient receives the link, they can click on it to open a dynamic map that displays your location in real-time. Rather than being yet another social network that you have to fill out a profile for, invite friends, and all the other usual hassles, Glympse requires no registration or login.
And friends are temporary. You can choose to allow your location to be seen for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 4 hours which drastically simplifies the user privacy process. With services like Google Latitude or Loopt you have to manually choose how accurate your location is being displayed and to whom (Robert Scoble has a good Latitude/Glympse comparison). With Glympse you choose the recipients, how long they can see your real-time location and that’s that. And the recipient doesn’t have to sign up or install software to see your location. The thinking here is that it’s a great way for teenagers to update their parents regarding when they’ll be home or update business associates regarding how late you might be for your meeting.
Currently Glympse maps can be displayed in any type of browser, whether it be on a mobile phone or desktop. And the plan is to make it available in the Android Market soon, followed by public betas for the iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.
The iPhone still poses a problem for apps like Glympse. Without background processing for applications, Glympse has to be open all the time for it to be useful. If it’s closed you won’t be able to see an updated location. And while news of late points to Apple’s inclusion of the feature in the near future, it’s not here yet. Unfortunately for Glympse, the iPhone is where it’ll likely see the highest user adoption numbers.
Nevertheless, the idea is a good one. Glympse appears to be simple to use, requires no registration or login, and serves a single purpose. No extraneous garbage features to be found with this application. But I wonder how Glympse will monetize. Contextual advertising? A paid premium version?
According to Xconomy , both of the above. In talking with Glympse co-founder and chief executive officer Bryan Trussel, the publication found out that the application will be free in order to facilitate mass adoption. After that the company will likely develop paid models, try location-based advertising, and possibly offer Glympse as a platform for developers to build on top of.
As for competition, the LBS market is getting pretty crowded. But by providing an app with a laser focus and user-friendliness, Glympse is, in my opinion, positioned in such a way as to maximize its chances for success.
Glympse launched in stealth mode back in March 2008 and was co-founded by three former Microsoft employees: Bryan Trussel, Steve Miller and Jeremy Mercer. Aside from the co-founders, Glympse has three full-time developers and a few workers in China and Belarus.