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Sprint Gives Developers More Location Information

The wireless carrier is opening up its platform so third-party developers can make their applications location-enabled.
With more and more handsets featuring GPS chipsets, the opportunity for location-based services (LBS) is growing rapidly. With this in mind, Sprint is expanding its developer platform to enable new location-based applications for Sprint customers.

The United States' third-largest wireless carrier is partnering with uLocate's Where and WaveMarket's Veriplace technology to help developers create apps. Sprint said these companies provide tools to reduce the difficulty of certifying the on-board applications that use GPS, triangulation, and other location services.

But location-enabled applications also have the potential to infringe on a user's privacy, as location-based social networking service Loopt found out earlier this year. Sprint said it takes these concerns seriously, and the new apps will use the same privacy and security model that's used with its Sprint Family Locator service.

"We're excited to help application developers create innovative location services for Sprint customers by working with these platform enablers," said Len Barlik, Sprint's VP of wireless and wireline services, in a statement. "The privacy and security of our users is the highest priority for us, which is why we selected Veriplace and Where. Both platforms have powerful but intuitive privacy systems that ensure the appropriate permissions are obtained prior to accessing location information."

Developers can get access to a handset's location via a standards-based Web service application programming interface, and Veriplace handles identity, authentication, and permissions. Sprint subscribers already had access to LBS apps with Where, but the partnership lets third-party developers add location information to their apps.

The move is another sign that location will be an increasingly important element in the mobile space. The LBS market is expected to grow from $515 million in 2008 to $13.3 billion in the next five years, according to ABI Research. While the major driver of revenue will be enterprise apps, services like personal navigation, location-based social networking, and family tracking will rise in popularity.