WAP phones to get maps and follow-me content

MapInfo provides dynamic location monitoring for telcos and content providers

UK mobile phone users will get services from this summer that can identify where users are located and point to relevant services that are near to them.

MapInfo, one of the largest developers of mapping software, is tying up deals with telecoms firms and content providers that should lead to cellular carriers being able to sell premium 'near-me' information services from phones that use the WAP protocol in the next two months. Services are already on tap in Finland through an agreement with Telia.

"It's about taking the Net and putting it into the hands of the masses," said David Flower, MapInfo European chief executive. "Dynamic location monitoring is critical to whatever services others want to deliver. There are other services that let you locate the phone but without the mapping and content that's useless."

The service could have multiple uses in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer applications.

"If you're a field engineer you're going to want to know where your next job is and how to get there," said Flower. "Or, if you go out shopping at the weekend and you're about to make an impulse purchase your phone could tell you where to go locally to buy the product cheaper."

Other potential services could locate and recommend nearest hotels and restaurants. Carriers could benefit by achieving better customer retention and longer airtime.

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