A while back, Google acquired Dodgeball…a tool that used your phone’s SMS feature to network with your friends to find out where they are so you could hook up with them.

After Google’s acquisition, Dodgeball seemed to get lost in the fray and Google never did anything with it, leading to a public blog post on why the founders quit.

It’s no real secret that Google wasn’t supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us - especially as we couldn’t convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, I’m actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again.

Recently, Google started cutting a number of their properties/features. The Dodgeball site warns that the site will be shut down in stages.

This prompted Dodgeball cofounder, Dennis Crowley to say:

So what’s next? Well I don’t know how many days we have left (30 days? 90 days?), but I’ve always said that it Google ever kills dodgeball, I’l build you guys a new one, so stayed tuned.

Fast forward to today: Search for “dodgeball google” in Google Search and you’ll find a sponsored link for Google Latitude.

Ad for Google Latitude

Google Latitude appears to be another way for users to hook up based on feedback from Google users who wanted to find their friends on a map. It also allows you to provide a short status similar to Facebook or Twitter. It uses maps instead of SMS as the interface and can be accessed either from your desktop’s web browser or from a phone by visiting google.com/latitude in your phone’s browser (it is unclear when/if this could be integrated in a future firmware upgrade for the iPhone to integrate into the Google Maps Application rather than requiring access through a browser but it is easily foreseeable having his integrated into the Android phone OS at a minimum).

Some screenshots provided by Google are below:
Google Latitude - Your friends on a map Google Latitude - Your friends’ status messages

Greg Sterling provides us with more details at SEL. including a statement that Latitude is not based on prior technologies (i.e. Dodgeball or Jaiku) but utilizes their triangulation/GPS capabilities.

Unfortunately, accessing the service through my iPhone shows a coming soon page. Apparently, J2ME and iPhone versions are not yet available:
Screenshot of Google Latitude on iPhone

Google Latitude is a feature of Google Maps for mobile on these phones:

  • Android-powered devices, such as the T-Mobile G1
  • iPhone and iPod touch devices (coming soon)
  • most color BlackBerry devices
  • most Windows Mobile 5.0+ devices
  • most Symbian S60 devices (Nokia smartphones)
  • many Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones, such as Sony Ericsson devices (coming soon)
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