Sprint offers loopt's social mapping service

In a major coup for the location based services sector, social mapping software developer loopt has inked a deal with Sprint to offer a FriendFinder service to the carrier's subscribers. Sprint will become the first major carrier in the U.S. to offer such a GPS application. Boost Mobile, an MVNO owned by Sprint running on its network, has been offering loopt's services to its subscribers for some time. Sprint users who subscribe to loopt's service for an additional monthly charge of $2.99 (plus data charges) will be able to share their location with other Sprint-loopt users, send proximity-based messages and view geo-tagged photos. Of course, users need to have one of the 25 GPS-enabled Sprint or Nextel handsets. The service also allows users to see their friends' locations on a map right from their mobile handsets.

The shortcomings to these services, however, are glaring. Unlike a Family Locater service, it's not necessarily a given that the people a potential user is looking to "locate" will be on the same carrier. Cross-carrier functionality for location based services would be the catalyst for LBS applications like this one, but the complexities (technological and regulatory) of sharing that kind of information between carriers will continue to slow down the trend.

For more on Sprint's loopt deal:
- read this press release

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