Motorola snaps up Aloqa

The location-based software developer reaches two milestones: an exit and one-million users

Financial trends and news by Faith Merino
September 16, 2010
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/11e4

Traveling?  Want to see what and who is nearby?  Aloqa, a location-based mobile application that delivers customized content to the user, allows you to bypass the frustrations of looking for decent food and something to do (which always ends up just getting you lost anyway).  And the service has evidently caught the eye of Motorola.

Mobile giant Motorola announced Thursday its acquisition of Aloqa, which comes as Aloqa has crossed the one million user threshold.  The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but according to Motorola’s press release, Aloqa will be joining Motorola Mobility, where it will be used to complement MOTOBLUR, Motorola’s own platform for delivering customized content to mobile devices, along with Facebook and Twitter updates. 

Aloqa CEO Sanjeev Agrawal sat down with Vator’s Bambi Francisco last year to outline what Aloqa does and how it differs from other location-based platforms.  In a nutshell, Aloqa goes beyond location-based ads and coupons to deliver a comprehensive range of content, including local events, sales at nearby retailers, local Craigslist ads, and notifications telling the user if his or her Facebook friends are nearby.  As Agrawal described it, Aloqa is about “delivering the right content to the right person at the right time.”

The obvious question is: how does Aloqa know what you like?  Answer: the same way that Amazon and Netflix know what you like.  Aloqa uses the channels that the user has added to his or her mobile device (shopping, food, events, etc.), as well as how that user responds to certain channels (how much time the user spends on it), to develop a uniquely customized experience for that user. 

Aloqa even looks at what the user doesn’t add to his or her mobile device to determine whether that user prefers other alternatives.  For example, if an Aloqa user visits a Starbucks but doesn’t add the Starbucks app to his mobile device, or looks for local coffee shops and spends more time searching (instead of settling for the first Starbucks he sees), Aloqa determines that that user prefers local coffee shops to big name brands like Starbucks.

The content also changes depending on the time of the day and the day of the week, as a user’s behavior and preferences will be different at 8 PM on a Saturday than noon on a Monday.

Crowded field

Aloqa has some steep competition in the form of major location-based networks like Foursquare and Gowalla, which offer comprehensive location-based services in their own right.  Interest in the location-based mobile app space has been mounting.  Earlier this year, Yahoo! acquired Koprol, a social network site for mobile users, for an undisclosed amount. Today, in-car infotainment company Harman announced that it has acquired Aha Mobile, a location-based on-demand content provider.  The difference, however, is in Aloqa's intuitive and customizable content.  

According to Agrawal, “we’re bringing together your whole context.”  Instead of just local features, Aloqa considers the user's preferences and behavior and unites all of it into one experience so that a user need only touch an app to see what’s nearby, rather than type in a location or business and run a search.

And then, of course, there is the friend-location feature, which allows a user to share his or her location with specific Facebook friends and see who is nearby, which brings up the question of privacy.  “I don’t want to sound naïve about it, but the notion of privacy is changing, and what people are comfortable sharing,” said Agrawal.

When asked what users were most likely to use Aloqa for (friends, food, etc.), Agrawal explained that there is no one feature that users would prefer, as Aloqa’s content is customizable and continually changing depending on the user, the time, and the location.  Agrawal outlined four general use categories that Aloqa caters to:

  1. Static points of interest, such as local coffee shops or retailers
  2. Nearby events
  3. Friends
  4. Sales and bargains, like local Craigslist ads or sales at preferred stores

Aloqa could not be reached for comment, but now that Aloqa has reached 1 million users, it would be interesting to find out what trends are emerging among its user base.

Image source: Blackberrydownload.net

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