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Microsoft touts real-time location service

Junk remover 1-800-Got-Junk is among first to latch onto package combining MapPoint Location Server with Sprint network.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
Microsoft is finding customers for its cell phone location server.

Junk remover 1-800-Got-Junk is among the first to use a specialized Microsoft server to incorporate real-time location information into maps and driving directions generated by Microsoft MapPoint Web Service, the companies announced on Monday.

Microsoft is making the package available in the United States through cell phone operator Sprint, which has integrated the MapPoint Location Server into its network and sells handsets with GPS (Global Positioning System) location capabilities.

The Microsoft offering lets 1-800-Got-Junk pack capabilities into cell phones for its drivers, such as pushing a single cell phone button to adjust a delivery route on the fly should they get lost, according to Trina Seinfeld, Microsoft MapPoint lead product manager.

The deal is a sign that the market for location-based services is starting to catch on among businesses. However, the technology has not yet caught on among the general public. While Microsoft has had some success with selling location information--it has more than 500 corporate customers generating 20 million maps and directions a day--Seinfeld conceded that it has been difficult getting consumers interested.

"It's an emerging market, it's just a small percentage right now," she said.