T-Mo adds a family check-in service; will people pay?

Written on:January 31, 2012
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T-Mobile added a new family locator service to its suite of carrier-specific Android apps on Tuesday. Owners of T-Mobile handsets will now find FamilyWhere, powered by Location Labs’ Safely software, in the T-Mobile section of the Android Market on their smartphones. With Safely installed, family members can find each other from their phone or a browser, even if the other family phones aren’t equipped with a GPS radio.

Safely has proven to be a popular people-locator solution, so T-Mobile isn’t partnering with an unproven startup.¬†Coinciding¬†with the T-Mobile news, Location Labs announced that its Safely service has now returned one billion premium “locates” on top-tier U.S. carriers. And by premium, it means paying subscribers: T-Mobile customers can use Safely free for 30 days, but after that, it’s $ 9.99 per month for up to 10 devices on an account.

Clearly, a billion location requests is a huge milestone; location services are becoming more important as a growing number of people, including kids, are making smartphones central to their lives. And without an iPhone, T-Mobile has no free “Find My Friends” iOS app. I do wonder, however, how many paying FamilyWhere subscribers T-Mobile will pickup when Life360 offers the same type of service for free and has been growing like gangbusters.

Regardless of sign ups, this is another example of carriers trying to add value services; a growing trend as they hope to avoid becoming fast, dumb pipes.

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