Mobile parking service Pango has an innovative solution for cracking the American market: Merging smartphone-based parking payments with location-based advertisements. Pango customers in New York and other major markets will receive, upon checking into garages, coupons and advertisements for businesses in the immediate vicinity. Combining location-based ads and smartphone parking ties together two of the hottest app trends of 2012, and offers a potential new revenue stream for similar start-ups.
Israel-based Pango entered the American market earlier this month through partnerships with test garages in New York, Phoenix, and Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Users are able to reserve and pay for spaces at parking garages via Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry; the Latrobe project also includes on-street metered parking. Outside of Israel, Pango's client base is primarily based in Germany, France, and Poland. Vice president Michael Reitblat tells Fast Company that the firm's location-based product would be aimed at businesses within 500 yards of parking garages and on-street spots.
Due to a mixture of cultural and economic factors, smartphone-based parking services have taken root in Europe and Asia much more quickly than in the United States. French service Placelib has become a popular way of locating and holding available street parking in Paris (something unimaginable in, say, Los Angeles) and new startups Parking Panda, KurbKarma, Parkmobile, and ParkMe have all sprouted up Stateside to offer either parking payment via smartphone or social parking spot-search functionality. Due to differences in American automobile culture, mobile parking startups operating domestically tend to emphasize parking at private garages over any social projects based around the honor system.
Apart from location-based advertising, Pango also generates profits by splitting revenues with parking garage owners or municipal authorities. Users enter their credit card and license plate information into the application, which does not cost extra in the United States. In the case of on-street parking, spots are reserved via GPS. Users are also notified via app if their parking reservation time is running out, something especially helpful for on-street parking.
Pango also lets users reserve spaces via SMS text message in both American and foreign markets. The biggest challenge right now for mobile phone parking providers is convincing drivers, garage owners, and municipal authorities of their service's utility—and of the fact that Zipcar-like apps for parking spots will become revenue generators.
[Image: Flickr user Brian Auer]