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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.
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:
- Static points of interest, such as local coffee shops or retailers
- Nearby events
- 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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Aloqa has solved two problems for mobile users: it takes away the need to type search terms into browsers or other mobile applications to find something, and also proactively recommends interesting local opportunities to users on the go. Wherever they are, users can simply glance at their phones and see which friends, favorite businesses, events like music concerts, local offers and other interesting places are close by, without having to launch a browser or search application. Aloqa takes into account the user’s location, preferences and social relationships to make these recommendations in real time.
“Aloqa makes mobile phones a lot more useful. As a user, it’s painful launching browsers and typing or speaking into apps. And even if doing searches becomes easier on mobile, it still doesn’t solve a bigger issue – every day all of us miss out on all kinds of opportunities we aren’t even aware of such as discovering friends who happen to be close by, or that there are concerts happening locally that we’d like, or sales and bargains all around us. Aloqa solves both the search and discovery issues by utilizing a user’s context – their location, time, preferences, and relationships – to notify them in real time of friends, places, events, and entertainment opportunities around them without delays” said Sanjeev Agrawal, CEO of Aloqa.
Aloqa is the first company to provide mobile users with context relevant alerts and notifications. Based on their location, preferences and social relationships, Aloqa users see what’s close to them without having to type anything into a browser or search application: their favorite businesses and points of interest, deals / coupons nearby, music performances and events, and Facebook friends in proximity. As they move, Aloqa refreshes automatically, so users never miss a social opportunity, event, or bargain.
PLEASE NOTE: On July 16, Aloqa (www.aloqa.com) announced that it closed $1.5 million in series-A funding and opened a beta of its context-aware mobile application on Android handsets. Aloqa was also selected to demonstrate its application on stage at the MobileBeat Conference, hosted by VentureBeat in San Francisco, and was chosen as a "Winner of Tesla Award" -- The people's choice award at mobilebeat.
Aloqa has also received some glowing coverage and comments in TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, AndroidGuys and others. Seel: