For all its troubles battling with shareholders and having failed to merge with Microsoft, Yahoo has managed to spit out an interesting new service today: Fire Eagle. In short, Fire Eagle provides a way to store and manage information about a user’s location so that other applications can grab that info and provide them geo-related services or social network features.
Users can update their location once and have it broadcasted across multiple sites they use – provided they have built-in Fire Eagle functionality such as Dopplr, Pownce, Movable Type and dozens others have. The idea, according to Yahoo, is to bring location awareness to everything on the Internet and to give control back to the user.
While most people (one would think) don’t have a compelling urge to let the world know where they are at all times, geo-aware applications can provide some interesting uses – and they will only get bigger with the proliferation of GPS on mobile devices. For instance, Dopplr has been using Fire Eagle to help update the locations of its users to personalize news stories relevant to that area, whereas another service called Dash uses location info to update traffic information.
For Yahoo, and for its advertisers, users’ location is also potentially valuable information – since marketers can target goods and services to them based on where they are. Luckily, the service is very focused on security and privacy so that users always have control over what information is being shared.