This is Google's second acquistion in the social networking/location-based services space in recent months. In May, Google acquired dodgeball.com, a service that allows users to find "friends" and new friends using text messaging.
Meetro combines instant messaging with automatic local buddy finding. Users can log in and browse or search profiles of other members in order to find someone compatible who's nearby and also logged in. The area to be searched can be narrowed to a quarter mile. "The beauty of Meetro is the direct way in which you connect with people nearby," Paul Bragiel, CEO of Meetroduction, said in a statement about the software release. The software is compatible with AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ, adding the ability to find people outside of one's personal buddy lists. Before the acquisition, the company planned to eventually support MSN Messenger and Jabber as well.
It's not difficult to envision the marketing opportunities especially with very focused local advertising especially with being able to narrow down to a quarter mile.
Review--What does dodgeball.com offer?
It works, explained founder Dennis Crowley, by having users check in with text messages announcing where they are. Then, because dodgeball maintains a database of hundreds of nightspots in each city, anyone on a user's friends list who is within 10 blocks gets a message that his or her pal is nearby.
Postscript: I'm still wondering what Meetroduction and dodgeball.com have to do with Google's mission, "to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible." Maybe it's time for Google to better define their mission these days.
Postscript 2: Battelle: Google Will Not Acquire Meetro covers how this acquisition is apparently not happening.