A few quick thoughts this morning as we near the event of the year, Austin's SXSW Interactive.  It just keeps getting better every year.

Location-based <fill in the blank> is bound to dominate the landscape this year.  Think back even five years ago — I think a lot of folks in 2005 would've been spooked by any service that collected and revealed the location of users.  But it's another one of those areas where people have relaxed their privacy standards to points unthinkable in recent times.

Overall, I think the buzz/reality quotient is very high right now.  The major players in consumer LBS have a lot of potential, but market share still remains relatively low.  A few things are likely to accelerate this:  the advancement of smartphones and the more widespread inclusion of location into existing services that we all use now (search engines, e-mail, web browsing, etc.).

The LBS providers that can provide a good justification for continually "checking in" and/or those who automate it will be the ones to succeed.  Gameplay is good to start, but IMO it only lasts so long before people get bored with the game… unless you've created the next Pac-Man or something.  Watch out for improvements these services make to convince Joe User to check in every day & everywhere he is.

If you're attending SXSW and/or visiting Austin for the first time, consider going off the beaten path.  There are some great restaurants run by local entrepreneurs:  Kerbey Lane (breakfast), Curra's (interior Mexican), Maudie's and Trudy's (Tex-Mex), Mozart's (Coffee), The Tavern (burgers), G'Raj Mahal (Indian), Titaya's (Thai), Chez Zee (French), Romeo's (Italian) and countless others that make Austin unique and fun and keep money circulating through the local economy.

Have a great time everyone!!