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Meridian For iPhone: In-store, turn-by-turn maps to merchandise

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Before you download Meridian for iPhone, you should know that it probably isn’t going to work in your town just yet, unless of course the town you live in is Portland OR. However, I still recommend trying out this new-fangled search app  for a few reasons:

1. It’s free.

2. They’ve set up one of their store locations to work even if you are not in Portland so you can get the hang of the concept.

3. I think once you try it your going to wish it worked in your town.

4. They have many partnerships in progress and it actually could be in your town soon.

So how does it work? Meridian, developed by Spotlight Mobile, is a new kind of indoor navigation and discovery app that can be extremely granular. Basically, within partnered locations, Meridian can draw an in-store map directly to a piece of merchandise you are looking for or can draw a map directly to a sub-location inside of a larger location–like a bathroom in a football stadium. That’s the concept anyway. I spoke with Spotlight Mobile’s CEO Kiyo Kubo and told me that Meridian is unique in its mix of location-based navigation and branded content experiences, and differentiates itself from mall mapping companies like Micello and Fastmall through a deeper partnership with the locations that use their service. He thinks that will be the key to a lasting experience and consumer value.

Functional in two locations in Portland at today’s launch–Powell’s Books and the Portland Art Museum—Meridian aims to offer a great user experience for finding things, even inside buildings or in GPS inaccessible locations. On the technical side, this is accomplished through multiple, optional routines that use GPS, WiFi triangulation or self selected location. For example when the app is trying to build a map from your location to the merchandise’s location, it will first try to use GPS. If that doesn’t work, it switches to WiFi triangulation (if the location has a cooperating WiFi network) and if that fails it resorts to self selection which plots from general spots in the location.

Strategically, Spotlight Mobile is hoping to provide a service that both brands and consumers want, while eliminating a cycle of custom development for merchandisers and property owners. In this way, they plan to make integration with existing branded mobile apps and websites seamless. They are also planning to launch the app on multiple mobile operating systems soon.

Locations interested in signing up can contact Spotlight Mobile at info@meridian-apps.com, however it sounds like they already have many partnerships well underway.

The lazy part of me loves this concept. While I think grocery stores would resist playing ball with a service like this, I can’t tell you how happy it would make me if one day I could create a shopping list and have a map created to find each product. I imagine grocery stores would initially feel the same way about Meridian as TV ad agencies felt about DVRs, but really, they’ll have to get on board eventually because there are just too many advertising opportunities baked into the concept. There are just too many ways for businesses to capitalize on the prescience of in-store purchases. And that surely is part of Spotlight Mobile’s master strategy since Meridian keeps a history of the things you search for and all the maps you access. This kind of targeted information could be far more powerful for a store than merely keeping shoppers randomly in the location longer.

I say we keep an eye on this app. What are your thoughts?