Devicescape, a San Bruno, Calif.-based company that makes software that allows devices and smartphones to find and connect to WiFi networks, is jumping into a hotly contested business: location-based WiFi-positioning service. The company is targeting device makers with its new offering, SoftGPS WiFi positioning service. I wasn’t surprised by the news announcement — the company has been plugging away for more than three years and last year launched a global Easy Wi-Fi Network.
Devicescape is hoping that manufacturers will opt for its cheaper services instead of the more expensive cellular and GPS positioning technology. It is also going after devices that don’t have built-in GPS chips and cellular radios. These include game-players, digital cameras and eBook readers.
Unfortunately, the company is coming into a market full of competition. Devicescape is going to have to contend with Skyhook Wireless of Boston, which has been building a massive location database for nearly half a decade. Skyhook, which started out collecting data based on WiFi Networks, has since expanded its scope and ambition and now uses cellular towers and GPS for providing more accurate data.
Skyhook recently lost a primary tenant in Apple and as result one can expect Skyhook to become more aggressive in courting other device makers. It already has signed up customers like Samsung, Dell and Motorola. (I wonder how Devicescape is going to deal with the patents that were awarded to Skyhook recently.) And if Skyhook wasn’t enough, Devicescape will have to deal with Google which is building its own low-cost database, thanks to its Android operating system. Apple and Nokia also own their unique location-data related technologies.
Against such a backdrop, I wonder if Devicescape may find itself outgunned.
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