From Where 2.0 To Just Where; With Meh 2.0 Somewhere In The Middle

And so, as Where 2012 draws to a close and the lobby of the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco fills with a slew of geo’d-out delegates waiting to check out, it’s time for the traditional post conference retrospective writeup. If you were at Where this year or in previous years you’ll probably want to skip ahead to the next paragraph, right now. Where, previously called Where 2.0, is one of the annual maps, geo, location conferences. Though it’s very Californian and eye wateringly expensive, it’s still the place to go to talk, listen and announce anything related to the nebulous industry we call Geo.

After skipping Where 2.0 last year, this year I returned as part of the Nokia contingent and found out that some things had changed.

Firstly, Where 2.0 was no more. O’Reilly have rebranded the conference as simply Where, with the strapline of the business of location. The conference had also moved from its traditional San Jose venue, via the soul desert that is the Santa Clara Convention centre last year, to a new home at the Marriott Marquis slap bang in the middle of downtown San Francisco.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, whilst Where was as slick and well put together as it’s always been, something was missing. It’s not easy to put my finger on what precisely was lacking. There seemed to be a lack of … buzz, for want of a better word. It felt … muted. Numbers were certainly down from previous years but that alone can’t account for the feeling, or lack of it, this year. Granted, the venue was excellent, the food was as well too. The coffee was … Starbucks. We can’t have it all. The wifi almost held up. I met up with a lot of old friends and colleagues, including some from Yahoo! and the after show parties were edgy and the bar was open, free and copiously stocked.

But it did feel more Meh 2.0 (to be said out loud with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders) rather than Where 2.0, and from speaking to other people, I’m not alone in thinking this.

So enough introspection, to the point of this post, which is retrospection. Let’s start with the high points.

This was most definitely a Nokia event. Not only were we Gold sponsors of the event but I was lucky enough to get a speaking slot, my second Where appearance, and I was amply aided and abetted by a geographically dispersed crowd of fellow Nokians hailing from not only The Valley, but Atlanta GA, Chicago IL and Berlin. As a bonus, I got to do not one, but two product launches, plus some sneak peeks at what’s coming up location wise from the company.

Meh 2.0 notwithstanding, it was also good to see several Yahoo! alumni for a long overdue catchup. Geo-beers may have been conspicuous by their absence, but geo-cocktails were very much apparent.

Sadly, Yahoo! also provided probably the lowest point of the whole conference. Right slap bang in the middle of proceedings, Yahoo! announced yet another round of layoffs, culling almost 2000 employees. When this happens, the last place you want to be when you’re waiting to hear whether you still have a job is at a conference and my heart just went out to my ex-colleagues who had to sit their, with a fixed smile on their face, as they waited to hear news from the Yahoo! mothership down in Sunnyvale.

So, to recap, a mixed bag of events and emotions at this year’s Where. Personally and professionally I think it was a great, team aided, success. Hopefully we’ll all return next year to find the “wow” at Where is back and to put the “meh” firmly behind us.

Wrapping this retrospective up, I should include the traditional slide deck from my talk, together with my notes. You’ll find them below, hosted on Scribd this time as an embedded PDF. Since Slideshare went freemium, my decks are now just too big to be hosted by their free account offering which has a 10MB limit. At some point, I’ll drag all my decks from Slideshare and put them up on Scribd.

Slide 2

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Gary. I’m a geo-technologist by profession and a geographer at heart. I’m the Director of Places for Nokia’s Location and Commerce group.

Slide 3

But first some recent history. If you were here at last year’s Where, you would have heard Michael Halbherr, the head of Nokia’s Location & Commerce, introducing you to a concept … a truly global location platform, one that is built on the world’s most accurate mapping and navigation assets. If you were at Nokia World in London in October, you would have heard me talk about the launch of what we now call the Where Platform. Fast forward to today and I want to update you on how Nokia is continuing to deliver on the promise that Michael and I talked about in San Jose and in London … to grow the “Where” ecosystem, to provide a horizontal yet device agnostic set of API offering and a growing list of companies and apps that are using these APIs.

At Nokia Location & Commerce, our aim is to be the Where company. Why?

Today, the internet is well organised around the concepts of “What” and “Who” with search engines and social networks providing the answers to these questions. We are striving to provide answers to questions of “Where.”

Location is massively important to today’s internet, whether it’s on mobile devices, on tablets, on laptops or the other myriad ways in which we access the internet. Over 40% of mobile searches have location within them or are looking for local information. There’s a hunger for location-relevant information and this proves to us that the concept of “local” has never been more essential to today’s users, customers and consumers.

Slide 4

The days of someone owning a single internet connected device are almost over. We’re now buying, owning and using multiple mobile devices. At the same time, these devices are getting smarter – firstly, because they are increasingly connected to the cloud and secondly because they are sensor-rich. From NFC for payment in stores and on transport, to more advanced sensors that interpret if you’re running versus taking a bus, all the way to sensors that connect with devices like wrist band heart rate monitors – these sensor-rich devices provide us with critical data that helps us better understand location related behavior which in turn helps us to identify patterns and trends.

To build the Where Platform, we believe you need four essential components … data, a platform that uses this data, APIs that expose the platform and apps and experiences that showcase the power of the platform and its data.

Slide 5

So first, there’s data; we have a lot of data, from best-in-class, navigation quality, mapping assets through to global, yet local, location based data.

Slide 6

The Where Platform is built on top of this data and what’s more, it learns from the data. We call this a learning engine and it’s because there’s really two sorts of data out there … reference data and activity data.

Let’s start with a Place. Where and what is this Place? This is reference data, the index of world around us and it enables the routine location functions we take for granted, such as search, routing and navigation.

Then there’s activity data that utilizes the types of sensors I just spoke about to understand how people interact with their devices, their apps and the real world around them.

Or to put it another way, we know about a Place and we can know what actually happens, in the real world, at this Place. Put these two types of data together and it becomes what we call smart data and it’s this that powers the Where Platform and enable us to create a digital, predictive model from all the Places and objects in the physical world, including our user’s needs and activities.

Slide 7

The reference and activity data I mentioned earlier, combined as smart data, powers the Where Platform. The platform in turn powers the showcase for this, our apps, which I’ll cover in a few slides time. But apps aren’t enough in today’s world, you need robust APIs as well.

There is a unique opportunity to work with you and with developers to build the where-enabled ecosystem; across verticals and across the screens we use on a daily basis, to power the experiences you’re building for your users.

So let’s dig a bit deeper into the APIs …

Slide 8

We already have a set of modular, configurable, highly performant APIs that are easy to use and to integrate, with an active developer community who appreciate our simple and fair terms of use. For the web, we have JavaScript APIs for Maps and for Places as well as a new Places web service API, more of which in a few moments. We’re going to be unifying the JavaScript APIs for Maps and for Places into single API under the Nokia Maps for JavaScript API banner.

There’s also our Map Image web service API and our upcoming Maps API for HTML5, which I’ll talk more about in a few slide’s time.

And for native mobile use, there’s out Maps API for Qt and our Places API for JavaME and coming later this year our Maps API for Windows Phone.

Slide 9

APIs are of course utterly critical to the Where platform and the Where ecosystem but we also to ensure that we cover all the screens that act as touch-point between the digital and real words for people throughout their day. As I move from my computer at work, to my laptop, to my in-car nav system, to my tablet, our goal is to have an offering for virtually any of these screens.

In addition to the Places API, I also touched on APIs for Qt, for Windows Phone and for JavaME for Nokia devices. For non-Nokia handsets and platforms, you can already see the power of the NLP on maps.nokia.com on the web and coming soon will be native HTML5 support.

You may already know of the Nokia Maps app for Windows Phone, but Nokia Maps is already available via the Amazon Android Store and includes routing for drive, walk and public transport.

We’re also announcing a closed beta of our Nokia Maps HTML5 API, which is the first of many huge milestones we hope to achieve to expand our APIs and presence across screens as quickly as possible.

Slide 10

I mentioned a few slides back that we’re making a commitment to support the Where Platform across all screens, by making the platform device agnostic and truly horizontal. You may recognise the mobile devices behind me and, although these are screenshots of our maps on both Android and iOS, these are not mocks-ups, they’re from real proof of concepts, using the Where Platform. But these are not apps that we’re releasing so don’t rush to your mobiles to try and download them. But if you want to see them live, in action and in person, you’ll be able to see and play with them at the Nokia booth.

Slide 11

Now, a few slides back I mentioned our Places web service API. This is in addition to our Places API for JavaScript and so I’m really pleased, or as we say in Britain, chuffed, to announce the public beta of this …

Through our Places API you can:
Discover Places by searching explicitly and nearby
Display Place information, basic and extended data attributes, rich content, editorial and user generated content; this is far more than the offerings of some of our competitors
Interact with a Place, share it, navigate to it

Through the Nokia Places API, you can find locations in more than 1.5 million areas (cities, districts, and regions) as well as more than 120 million point addresses across 15 countries.

Slide 12

The term Places API is usually synonymous with searching for Place information and with displaying a page containing this information, but there’s far more to Places that just this. Look at these heat maps behind me; they’re great examples of the type of experience you can create using the Nokia Places API. These dynamic heat maps are produced by combining Place categories and other algorithmic inputs to show were you might want to eat or shop. This is great for getting a feel for a locality that you may be unfamiliar with.

We know that a powerful set of API offerings is critical to our ability to recruit partners to help build the Where ecosystem. This is why I’m excited to share the launch of the Nokia Places API web service with you today.

Slide 13

At Nokia, we realize that becoming the Where company is not an easy task. The Platform alone is not enough, nor is produced a set of APIs enough. There needs to be support, documentation and tools which work the way you work. But we also know that sometimes you just want to join in the fun. And so, over the past year we have been working hard to grow the Where ecosystem.

We’ve added customers such as those listed here and these have increased the hits to the platform from 560M/month in Q1 2011 to 4.6B/month in Q1 of this year; that’s around a 750% increase.

Slide 14

For example, we have been working with Yahoo! since late 2010. All Yahoo! sites that have a map element will be served by one of Nokia’s Location & Commerce data center locations around the world.

Slide 15

Whenever one of millions of Yahoo! users checks out a location, Yahoo! sources its mapping/imagery, routing, traffic, and geocoding services from the Where Platform.

As Dirk Daumann (Nokia Head of Map Services Platform) says “We have served millions of Yahoo! users worldwide for around 150 days. Our service has been available to 99.9 per cent. This means that we have constantly exceeded what was agreed, something that we are very proud of. During peaks, we serve 1200 queries per second, a number that we estimate to grow when the transition of all Yahoo! sites to our services has been completed.”

Slide 16

Additionally, we recently announced our partnership with Groupon to collaborate on a redesign of the customer experience of deal discovery, purchase and redemption.

We plan to do this by working with them to offer market-leading, location-sensitive discounts and deals that are more locally relevant and convenient. By the way, as we’re early in our relationship with Groupon, the graphics you can see behind me are a mock-up, not a real app, so no heading to the Marketplace to download please.

Slide 17

What I’ve just been talking to you about over the last 15 minutes or so, shows, I hope, the massive amount of investment and commitment we’ve made over the past year to building a where-enabled ecosystem and in achieving our goal of becoming the Where company.

Similar to our Platform and APIs, we’ve met major milestones with our apps as well. Today, we have 5 apps that are based upon and showcase the Where Platform:

Nokia Drive provides free, in car navigation for driving and reaching destinations safely.
Nokia Transport allows you to have all your commuter information at your fingertips: No more carrying around city maps or timetables—it is all on your device, wherever you are.
Nokia Maps provides new ways to discover and explore the world around you.
Nokia City Lens is an augmented reality browser turns a phone’s camera viewfinder into a new way to spot nearby attractions, shops, restaurants and places of interest.
Nokia Pulse is an exciting new way to privately check in, meet up and stay in touch with the people, like family and close friends—with just one click.

In fact, these apps are one of the best ways to illustrate the power of the Where Platform. What we’ve done with our apps is just the beginning. And with the power of the platform and our APIs, the opportunities for you to build unique, location-relevant solutions are endless.

Slide 18

We see an opportunity to work with you to build a where-enabled ecosystem. For all of us to become part of something bigger.
To be part of an ecosystem that stretches across screens.
That spans B2C, B2B and B2D.
That answers consumer’s where-related questions and empowers them to explore and enjoy the increasingly merged physical and digital world around them.

If you’re interested in discussing further how we can work together, please swing by the Nokia booth – it’s number 208.

Slide 19

… thank you for listening

Written and posted from the British Airways First Lounge, San Francisco International Airport (37.6140, -122.3852)

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