A few months ago while meeting up with some customers of Zuora’s SaaS subscription and billing service I spent a hour or so with Quova, a Mountain View based company that enables geolocation data to be built into products – in their case based on IP. Quova is today opening a developer portal and giving developers free access to their geolocation API.

While geolocation is constantly in the news right now (Facebook Places anyone? Foursquare? Gowalla?), Quova is different in that it uses IP data, rather than GPS coordinates to provide its data. Currently Quova is used mainly to enforce download and access restrictions based on locality.

So – what can people do with this portal?

On the Quova Development Portal, developers can obtain free access to the Geo API and build their own Geo powered applications for web and mobile devices. Developers are able to take advantage of the wealth of IP data that Quova has built up over the past decade or so and provide location contextual offering with localized content, and allowance for local regulations.

The API serves up quite detailed data – using the portal an application can make a call that will return:

  • Area code
  • Time zone
  • Longitude and latitude
  • Metropolitan statistical area (where available)
  • Network information
  • Postal code
  • City, state and region

Of course this information is only available for an IP address in the public domain – and therein lies the rub. One would think that IP based geolocation is very much on the backfoot compared to satellite based. As Perry Tancredi from IP Commerce told me:

IP gives you 100% coverage without requiring any user input or opt-in.  GPS is great for systems that have that capability and when you have the opportunity to ask and receive permission from the user.  IP geo gets you lower granularity, but without the requirements of GPS. Also other data can be tied to IP addresses, like connection speed, organization, domain, and connection type (dial-up, T1, cable, mobile, etc.)

So there are whole host of situations where IP logging is appropriate – obviously anytime a non GPS enabled device is being used, IP logging will till work – but there are other use cases and reasons:

  • You run a SaaS company and want to bill based on location
  • You run an ecommerce offering and want to provide customers a regionalized offering
  • You want to pre-identify or pre-authorize customers
  • You want to extend location out to the internet of things and need the cheapest geolocation option available

Platforms are all the rage, and giving developers access to data and functionality via API is the way of the future – there’s likely to be some cool stuff built on top of Quova’s portal.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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