Behind the hype: Why are proximity apps so hot right now?

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Mobile apps that notify you when something or someone of interest is nearby, offline, are seeing a big wave of excitement leading into this weekend’s kick-off of the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Apps like Sonar, EchoEcho and most prominently Highlight.

Why is this space so hot right now, though? (Or is it just a handful of Silicon Valley types that care?) The technology isn’t necessarily new – why are people so excited about it now? I asked that question on Twitter and got some very thoughtful answers. I think they help paint a good picture of the latest trend in the mobile location sharing industry, so I thought I’d share them together in one collection via Storify. What do you think of these theories – and what do you think about this class of apps? Will people care about them next month? Is this really the future of Social, Mobile and Location or just a short-term fad?

For the wireless industry, these apps are interesting because they require constant connectivity and open up user expectations regarding push messaging. They offer a whole new realm of opportunities and challenges.

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