Location-based apps take center stage at SXSW

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

SXSW is a show defined by minds and ideas, rather than the announcement of new consumer electronics.

Compared to tradeshows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) or Mobile World Congress, South by Southwest is focused on the network, entreprenuers, developers and young minds.

Some of the major trends coming out of SXSW are an outward expression of this social and group mentality that birthed so many interesting apps, games, and business plans.

SXSW, the place where both Foursquare and Twiter become common names, was home to many other social applications this year.

One app that stood out was Addieu, a mobile application which lets you connect with new colleagues via multiple social networks and Foursquare. This allows you to remember where and when you met new business contacts.

Perhaps the most telling thing about Addieu is that it focuses on social networks like Facebook and Twitter as part of your identity to be shared in a professional or private setting.

As the social web becomes more public and integrated with your digital personality, the road for location-based services is becoming more and more paved. For example, sites like Ask.com and Foursquare are completely redesiging their business plans in order to create local, recommendation-based sharing platform - an idea that was huge at SXSW 2011.

For example, Ask.com revamped its concept entirely to create a location-based group messaging situation so users can hone in on a particular place and figure out if they truly want to attend.

Meanwhile, Gowalla and Foursquare are still hoping to further leverage brands with the check-in sites to offer greated benefits for users and brands. 

Foursquare recently embarked on a partnership with American Express to offer credit card users real-life and digital rewards like points for credit card usage and a "Swipe" badge. A similar check-in site, Gowalla, is hoping to move more towards Groupon-like discounts using Gowalla Rewards. Both companies had panels with representatives from the company who spoke on behalf of the future of locaton-based check-ins.

Although the concept is relatively new and will continue to evolve in the near future, companies are clearly looking towards location-based services as a lucrative revenue model, with applications ranging from location-based to-do lists like Neer, to music sharing and even movies.

Finally, location is moving into the gaming space as well. One of this week's most notable keynotes was made by SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch, who talked about gaming being the most important added layer of reality this year.

Companies like SCVNGR and Grey Area (maker of the game Shadow Cities) are hoping to add a layer of location-based gaming on top of real life. It's all about interacting with the world around you.

For example, SCVNGR offers reward-based challenges while Shadow Cities is a game where users can cast spells and play a World of Warcraft-type game within their actual city.

In conclusion, the social web was a major theme this year, whether in the form of gaming, location-based check-ins, sharing contact information or group texting.