Last time we mentioned location-based social network Loopt, they’d just released a 3G iPhone app in partnership with Yelp. Now the mobile startup, which helps you locate your friends and nearby points of interest, has announced something even bigger.
One of the biggest issues currently in scaling a network such as Loopt’s is to get buy-in from wireless carriers. Problem is, most are leary of paying the huge fees generated by having to access massive amounts of GPS data, something called doing the “dip”. Even Loopt CEO Sam Altman agreed “the economic model had to change”.
And now it has. Loopt has entered into an agreement with both SiRF and Qualcomm to access unlimited amounts of GPS data for a fixed fee. Not only does this knock down Loopt’s operating costs a great deal, but costs carriers a whole lot less to run the app on their supported mobile phones. Rumor has it that this deal has more behind it than just their social networking application. Apparently the company is also working on a location-based ad network which will be more accurate and successful as the GPS data it accesses increases. Now that Loopt will only pay a fixed fee, they’re free to run and develop some really innovative location-based services. I wonder if main competitor, Pelago, the maker of Whrrl, is worried yet?