Opera Adds Geolocation into Browser

picture-76Following Google Chrome and Firefox (Geode), Opera has announced geolocation API support. Effectively it will allow users to share location with third party sites — very much like the iPhone experience in concept:

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The location awareness technology is being provided by Skyhook Wireless, which put out its own press release this morning:

Opera Software and Skyhook Wireless today announced their partnership to bring geolocation to the Web. Users can now simply choose to share their location with any Web site and get a range of information about related products and services around them. Whether it is local searching, social networking, geotagging photos, local advertising or discovering nearby content, geolocation is a key factor in creating a relevant and meaningful experience on the Web.

Traditionally, geolocation was considered as being only a part of a downloadable mobile application; but with Skyhook’s Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), any computer or mobile phone with a wireless adapter can take advantage of its advanced positioning technology and locate a user, making this service available to any Web site.

Windows 7 also uses a patchwork of strategies to identify user location.

So very soon all the major browsers will have a better or potentially better fix on location (as well as Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle and its developer network). Privacy and the precise user experience around sharing location is something I discussed recently with Matt Womer, of the W3C consortium. And it all remains to be worked out. (The screen above is a Firefox-generated drop-down that enables opt-in location sharing on a case-by-case basis.)

I’ve written several times before about the content and advertising implications of better location awareness at the browser level. Lots of customization and targeting become possible that didn’t work with IP-based systems alone.

These browser-based solutions probably don’t totally eclipse IP targeting because to get location users will have to explicitly opt-in, which won’t work on the fly for ad networks. However, once you’ve opted in at a particular site, and once you return to that site, a cookie could potentially pass your specific location to the ad server for a more locally targeted ad/offer.

Lots of stuff remains to be worked out around the user experience, use of cookies and privacy. But the bold new world of pervasive online location awareness is basically here.

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Related: Skyhook awarded patent in connection with WiFi positioning.

2 Responses to “Opera Adds Geolocation into Browser”

  1. Internet Marketing Journal UK » Blog Archive » Test blog Post Says:

    […] Opera Adds Geolocation into Browser « Screenwerk […]

  2. Firefox 3.5 Bakes in Location « Screenwerk Says:

    […] Users must opt-in and affirmatively share location, but its a huge step forward. Chrome and Opera offer something similar. And Safari includes location in its iPhone […]

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