[SXSW] At SXSW, I met with Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO, of Loopt, a location-based social networking site, and he showed me the new Loopt app for the iPhone. Loopt introduced its new Pulse button that allows SXSW attendees to access a consolidated guide for all the panels, films, bands, and parties going on at SXSW (Pulse! tab > Events) From there users can listen to music clips from the SXSW bands and see who else is going on Facebook. Loopt was one of the first successful mobile location-based social networking site, but now competing with trendy new comers Gowalla and Foursquare, who added a gaming component to the regular location-based social networking, the company had to release a check-in feature 5 months ago.
According to Sam Altman, the site counts now over 3 millions users, and the new Pulse feature include tens of thousands of local events, allow check-in to events, public Tips, and the ability to RSVP to events posted on Facebook. New partners SonicLiving, Zvents and Metromix are giving access to music and entertainment content to Loopt users.
Loopt’s existing suite of content providers includes Zagat, CitySearch, Microsoft’s Bing and TastingTable. I asked Sam Altman if he considered Yelp as a competitor he answered affirmatively and he agreed with me when I suggested that the local search and recommendation site will soon add the missing location-based component to its offering. When asked about Google Latitude, Sam Altman declined to comment. Additionally, he stated that Loopt does not compete with Gowalla and Foursquare since it is not a game, well, do not agree on this one. In my opinion, the future of the location-based mobile servicesis full of acquisitions, aggregators and open APIs like Facebook Connect to provide communication and data exchange between various websites.