GPS on cell phones is a no-brainer for consumers. But it's been a nightmare for developers -- until now.

By Jake Swearingen, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- GPS on cell phones is a no-brainer for consumers: Find whatever you're looking for, wherever you are. But try to develop software for GPS phones and you'll be stumbling through a maze of programming languages, like J2 and Brew, and standards that vary from carrier to carrier and phone to phone.

"Fragmentation is the key word," says Mike Ippoliti at ABI Research. There's a move afoot, he says, to find an aggregator that will unite the market.

Enter uLocate, a four-year veteran of location-based apps and the company behind Helio's popular friend-finding software. In March the company launched Where, the first no-cost GPS programming platform that can work across multiple phones and carriers. "We thought the more fragmented the market is, the less likely it is that anyone will want to develop anything," says Walt Doyle, CEO of uLocate. I

n just the past seven months, more GPS apps have been released using Where than were released on any other platform over the previous three years. Currently available on Sprint and Alltel phones, Where will be adopted by several more carriers by the end of the year.

As for consumers, a $3 monthly fee gives you access to more than 50 GPS widgets that do everything from pointing out nearby coffee shops to telling you what's on the opposite side of the world from where you're standing. Even Burger King has gotten in on the act, developing a widget that directs users to the nearest Whopper.

ULocate's platform is delivering a flurry of GPS-based widgets to mobile devices. Here's a sample:

State reps: Just ran over a pothole? Look up the officials responsible for the street you're on.

Pub Walk: Thirsty? uLocate the local watering holes.

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