About a week ago, Vodafone announced their new mashup API called betavine. Using it, you can send SMS messages and push WAP pages out to cell phones. I love to see big companies that seem to get that our market is quickly moving to a web services architecture, but my worries about developing mass-market horizontal services still hold. Big companies like developing large, horizontal services, not small nichy ones. I DO think there's a market for companies like Vodafone to be amazingly good at providing development platforms, and I hope that's where they are going. So far, as an API, the Betavine API is pretty ho-hum. SMS is a simple service to provide, as evidenced by the dozens (and dozens) of SMS providers in the market already. I happen to like StrikeIron, but I'm sure you have your favorites. That said, when you sign up for their service, and poke around their site, they tease you with gold.
The gold, and it's 24k gold to the service provider that does it, is location. The Betavine site alludes to supporting location based services in the future, and when they do... watch out. You'll see incredible applications spring up. I'm not sure if they will support location based services for Vodafone handsets only (my bet is that will be restriction), or for all handsets, but I predict it to be such a compelling addition to the toolkit that developers will flock to the API. I know I will.
The first, and easy one is.... Where am I? I send a text message, and it pushes down a map of where I am. Where is the nearest gas? The nearest, cheapest, gas? Where did my daughter drive to? I am travelling, and I call for directory assitance. If it knows I speak English, it will connect me with an English speaking operator, even though I am in Mexico. Concierge services. Avoiding traffic. Knowing the client's location is super, super critical, and it just might be that Vodafone gets there first.