Last week I got to sit down at lunch in Boulder and chat with David Herrold, online and mobile media expert for the Houston Chronicle (whose recent project has been spearheading the Chronicle’s transition to using Kaango for some of its classifieds). He mentioned a mobile idea that I too have pondered, and we’re both wanting someone to come up with this application for the new generation of location-aware mobile smart phones:
An app that finds garage sales near your current location, then maps them on your phone and gives you driving directions. (And of course it takes into account the hours of the sales.)
Imagine garage-sale aficionados driving around on Saturday morning using only a phone to navigate from sale to sale. Not even a map required.
In theory, this shouldn’t be too difficult to create (for some smart mobile application developer). But it means that online venues that accept garage-sale ads need to get smarter about the formats that they accept those ads in, with users entering information like address (geo-tagging), date, times, and items for sale in data fields rather than writing everything in a single text field.
Newspapers could have an advantage in this by providing such a valuable service to the fast-growing number of users of location-aware mobile phones (Apple’s iPhone 3G, the brand new Gphone, et al). Of course, anyone could develop such an app, utilizing garage-sale ads from a variety of online classifieds sites, so it’s yet another test to see if newspaper publishers will (maybe this time?) do it first.
Newspapers’ websites could become a better venue to place your garage sale ad by offering cutting-edge features like this. And since Craigslist continues its reticence to develop new features or change its dated interface, this is one (admittedly small) category to perhaps grab back from Craig and company.
Revenue model? Free basic online ads with various upsells, including being included in the mobile garage sale phone application.
OK, so who is going to take this on?
And this is just one little mobile classifieds idea. What other applications can we devise for mixing classifieds and our increasingly intelligent mobile phones? Please discuss…