Google Latitude tops 3 million active users, check-ins next

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Google announced that its Latitude mobile friend finder service now tops 3 million active users, adding that more than 8 million users have signed up since the solution went live in early 2009. "Latitude is not dead," cracked Steve Lee, product manager for Google Maps for Mobile and Google Latitude, during a panel appearance Thursday at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco--despite the attention lavished upon up-and-coming location-based social networking services like Foursquare, Gowalla and MyTown, Latitude continues to grow 30 percent month-over-month, with over 10 percent of Android smartphone owners now using the service.

Latitude enables smartphone users to triangulate the whereabouts of family and friends, offering the approximate location of contacts that decide to share their activities. In addition, Latitude enables users to communicate via SMS, Google Talk, Gmail or status update, as well as upload new profile photos on the fly. Asked if Google will eventually move from implicit to explicit location based on the success of the check-in model popularized by Foursquare and Gowalla, Lee said he does see Latitude evolving in that direction, but added Google still feels there is promise in the implicit model. "It will be a hybrid model eventually," Lee said.

For more on Gowalla's growth:
- read this TechCrunch article

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