We’ve talked about Loopt here before and were hardly surprised to see the location-based mobile social network eagerly debut a new iPhone app. In fact, co-founder and chief exec Sam Altman said that the day the iPhone software development kit was released by Apple, he had one person devoted solely to putting together the application for a full six weeks. The application is available for free from the iPhone App Store and allows users to use the iPhone’s touchscreen to navigate their way around an interactive map of their location in order to find their friends and see what they are doing. It functions as an interactive tool that allows friends to find each other, meet up, and hang out and provides reviews of local events and services.
Whether related to the new iPhone app or not, Loopt has made some big inroads lately in syncing their mobile web presence with their ordinary web presence. One handy feature Loopt integrates into their iPhone app is Yelp reviews. If you’re not familiar with Yelp, it’s kind of a social network/review database that helps its members find the best and avoid the worst events and services around big-city USA. Now not only will Loopt help bring friends together, but together in the best places to eat, drink and socialize with the addition of such a content partner. If you take a look at the iPhone screenshot above, you’ll see map markers that when clicked on will take you directly to Yelp reviews of that particular location. Disappointly though, for the time being you won’t be able to post Yelp reviews directly through the Loopt application although you can obviously still write Loopt reviews. Why Loopt has chosen to do this isn’t totally known, but I’d venture to guess that the company wants to build their own platform, not contribute to a competitor’s. Using an established database such as Yelp does assist in scaling Loopt’s application however.
Further solidifying their online presence is the integration of Loopt status updates into social networks such as Facebook and microblogging service Twitter. iPhone users can also post updates on status aggregator Friendfeed. By syncing the a user’s mobile web presence with their online presence, Loopt is poised for success in the future we’re sure. However they have some hefty competition in the form of Pelago’s Whrrl and uLocate’s Buddy Beacon, both available as iPhone apps. When it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, it’ll come down to strategic partnerships to decide which company ultimately ends up on top. Generate a critical mass of user’s, be available on all major wireless networks, and form effective advertising partnership that generate dollars. The first company to do this will swallow up the others, but we’re sure there will be more competitors on the scene in the near future. With the GPS capabilities of the second-gen iPhone, the upcoming Android OS bringing in more competition, Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems all making grounds in laying a foundation for application developers, the going will be tough even for established networks like Loopt.