“These so-called location-based services are trying to revamp the web experience to be less cumbersome on mobile devices, freeing users from what has been a pretty dismal experience involving lots of typing, scrolling and waiting.
The new services, with names like Mobio and Where, are aimed at anyone with a mobile device that can connect to the Internet. But the kind of online information they are making available on cellphones, BlackBerrys and other devices can be of particular use to travelers.
After downloading the application onto a phone, as you would a cellphone ring tone, a user can enter a city or a ZIP code and, in very few clicks, find the cheapest nearby gas station, locate a good restaurant, find an ATM or a Wi-Fi hot spot, call a cab, view movie times and more. [...]
The new location-based services are part of a big race to push the Internet — and all the advertising, sales and information it entails — onto cellphone screens. Just about every company with a Web presence, from Google and Yahoo to travel sites like Orbitz.com and Kayak.com, has been adapting certain services or search capabilities for mobile devices. [...]
For now, location-based service companies are being careful not to turn users off with ads, even though advertising provides the main revenue for services that are free to users. Those that do include ads try to display them only during the time it takes to connect to the Internet or in context — offering a coffee coupon, for instance, when a user searches for the nearest Starbucks.”