For the longest time, the seven-year-old Skyhook Wireless, a Boston-based geo location platform provider, has toiled in virtual anonymity while the startups that use its service and geo-location data, such as Foursquare, hogged the headlines. Nevertheless, like the Energizer bunny, the little company keeps going. With 2010 turning to be the year of location, Skyhook is finally seeing its early hard work pay off.
Today it is announcing that it has signed up Samsung Electronics, the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker, as a customer. Samsung is going to be using Skyhook’s geo-location platform on its phones, including those built on Samsung’s Bada platform. The Samsung Wave will be the first of such devices. It is not clear if Samsung is going to use Skyhook on non-Bada devices, such as its Windows Mobile and Android phones.
Samsung is the third mobile handset manufacturer to use Skyhook’s data. After gaining Apple as a customer, the company recently snagged Motorola (s MOT), despite Google offering free location-related data with its Android OS. Dell (s DELL) is now a customer as well. Why? Simply because Skyhook has more precise data, thanks to having spent years collecting location data via GPS, Cell Towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. The accuracy of the data is on display for all to see on Apple’s iPhone. And if you are a competitor, you can’t compete with data that cannot match the depth and precision of Apple’s mobile platform. Google’s location information, meanwhile, still has many miles to go before catching up with Skyhook Wireless.
“Samsung will easily be our biggest customer,” said Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless, who added that Apple, Motorola and Samsung will put the company at a whole new level. But Morgan will need a lot more deals than that in order to out-hustle a very motivated and cash-rich Google, who wants to build a geo-location database of its own.
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