In a patent filing, RIM is trying to patent the concept of location-aware features. An example of this would be selecting an appropriate ringtone profile based on your location (i.e. loud when at home, but silent when in the office). This patent was filed in 2005, so it’s been in the works for a while.
The real value of this patent will be in the features that utilize the location awareness. An example would be the security settings of your device. When at home these can be very relaxed, perhaps with longer timeouts between password entries, but as soon as you leave home, they become a lot more stringent. The idea would be to make the user experience more pleasant based on your location.
I also hope that this patent makes provisions for non-GPS location identifiers such as Cell ID. Not all phones have GPS and even if they do, they don’t tend to work indoors very well. Also, many GPS phone owners turn off the GPS radio to conserve battery life.
If RIM is granted this patent and incorporate the functionality in a meaningful way into their platform, it could result in a great increase in usability for it’s customers and possibly the creation of a lot of interesting application by it’s third-party developer network.