Mobile

Life360: You’re doing location wrong, and niche products always win

Above: Life360's CTO Alex Haro and CEO Chris Hulls

Image Credit: Life360

Google’s location sharing app Latitude shuts down this August, and family-focus app Life360 is scooping up its users. Why? Location sharing needs a purpose, says Life360’s chief executive, and the big guys just don’t seem to have that focus.

“Location sharing and location aren’t dead; the initial use cases that everyone thought would win are not surviving,” said Life360 CEO Chris Hulls in an interview with VentureBeat, “‘One size fits all’ is working less and less as products mature.”

Life360 found a successful niche for location-sharing: families. Over 100 billion “where are you” texts were sent last year, according to Hulls. Life360 is always on without draining your battery, so parents can check in on their kids’ whereabouts (and vice versa) without having to interrupt them. In the last two weeks since Google announced Latitude’s end, the company has seen a 30 percent increase in traffic, and today it launched an importer tool for people to transfer their data from one service to the other.

“In my mind it marks that the more focused product is winning again and we’ve figured out that family really is the unit that makes the most sense for always-on location sharing,” said Hulls.

He also pointed out Waze as a successful niche use for location sharing. Google recently bought this free navigation app was for $1 billion, and it will likely be a significant addition for Google Maps. Hulls says investors and companies looking for acquisitions aren’t interested in “the next friend tracker” — there needs to be a bigger problem solved.

Earlier this month, Life360 announced it raised a $10 million round of funding, the same day Google announced it was closing Latitude down.

Hulls says Apple’s Find My Friends app probably isn’t going to go very far, either. Without a Hulls says he expects Find My Friends, an iOS-specific location sharing app, “might just stay in the background.” He believes it’s also very limited because it doesn’t extend beyond the iOS platform, which makes it a “nonstarter for the majority of the world.”


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