The buzz around “location” within social media applications has become deafening.  And I thought this short piece from the founder of a geolocation provider adds some interesting perspective (obnoxious reference to a “gold rush” notwithstanding.)

Location capability shouldn’t be considered the “feature,” but rather simply a means to deliver a new kind of experience/value.  That’s common sense to be sure, but still useful to bear in mind as developers consider what to do with this powerful new tool.  
What we need to move to is a third wave of location apps… where location is integral to advancing a basic human need.  That’s qualitatively different than the first-wave location apps like Google maps where location IS the feature, and the second wave, like Foursquare, where location serves as the focal point for why the app exists.  I concur with a commenter to that post that “checkins” and “trophies” just aren’t the foundation of a sustainable business model.

I believe that the more location “disappears” into the substance of the user experience, the more powerful it can become.  It’s the means to an end, not the end in and of itself.