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March - 2009 - issue > Tech Tracker
Unfazed-of-Botched-Experiments,-Google-Unwraps-Latitude
Eureka Bharali
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Internet bigwig Google’s foray into second life through ‘Lively’ to take on its competitors like IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Dell, was politely turned off, branding it an experiment. It has also deliberately pulled the shutters down on various other endeavors including Radio ads, Google Video, Google Catalog Search, Google Notebook, and Dodgeball. Yet, after all the botched attempts to straighten their finances, which saw a dip for the first time, Google braves the world with another experiment called ‘Latitude’.

Latitude, the upgraded version of Google mapping, allows users to connect and trace the locations of anyone in the world. Using GPS, cell phone towers, global positioning systems, or a Wi-Fi connection, the software lets people who opt-in to the service to share their precise location and adjust the settings on a friend-by-friend basis.

The new foray may prove tough for startups like Pelago and Loopt that have braved the downturn with similar concepts, as Latitude is launched by the giant that is Google. However, the brand name does not ease out the new endeavor, which is currently available in the U.S. and in 27 other countries. Prior to its full-fledged usage, the concept is seen to be more of a threat to privacy than a solution to the connected world. The users are wary of the concept of anyone keeping a tab of their whereabouts.

Analysts, however, consider this anxiety to be a passé affair as similar criticisms heard during the launch of Facebook’s ‘news feed’ in 2006 gradually faded as users got acquainted to the service. The initiative is seen to be positive at a time when the entire world wriggles under threats like terrorism.
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