After first reading about geocaches, it seems to be a nearly inevitable application of data storage and communication technology. A network of thirty satellites in near Earth orbit (Neo) form the global positioning system (GPS). Originally intended for precise military navigation and intelligence gathering,it quickly found its use in civilian/commercial navigation. Now everyone with a mobile internet device can have their location pinpointed. This data is then collected by the owners and licensees of the technology being used, including for government intelligence gathering.
Specific data can be stored - cached - at a particular point, which is visible on a dedicated map. A user with the geocaching app. can race around and find as many as they like, and compare what they've found with other users internationally.
My first thought about this technological development is that it follows a historical precedent (at least for Anglo's): new capabilities are quickly, if not immediately militarised, and tightly controlled by government. The first aeronautical factories in Britain for example were state owned and operated, to supply what would become the royal air force. Radio and telephones were first deployed in Australia for army and navy use, with everyone else making do with the public post offices or commercial telegraph network. More recently, the internet was intended for data sharing by American defence researchers; now the GPS.
The second phase traditionally is that public services begin offering the latest information capabilities and communication technology to their communities. Within living memory, country townspeople would visit their local post office or library to make a phone call. My father was very proud at the time to have gone to the public library in Tamworth, and used a photocopier for a school project in the 60s. Equivalent for me was when the internet was first publicised in the mid 90s, when my brothers and I took most of a day out to visit the State Library in South Brisbane. We marvelled at filling in an online form to request songs on the radio because the ABC had the only websites we knew of at the time. (The whole situation was so new that triple j's URL was abc.net.au/triplej!) Weather forecasting and other geosciences foresaw the potential of satellites in their fields, and soon afterwards it was applied to archaeology.
The next phase seems to be a phase of mass adoption, or at least mass availability, when political economic factors take hold. Enough enterprising and experimental early adopters have figured out how the mechanisms work, and how to make them operate optimally; what the "rules" or "best practices" should be.
Typically conservative corporations stop being dismissive of the new concepts and techniques, and stop being stubbornly averse to disruption, carried by the critical mass of r&d. Governments become involved, both in regulation and provision.
Often, ambitious politicians envision the benefits of mass provision, leading to public institutions now considered sacred by default. Here, the Australian Communications Exchange gave birth to Telecommunications Australia (now Telstra) and the nationwide emergency services switchboard, generating incentive and demand for telephones in the home. Other examples include the ABC itself - or BBC or PBS - crucially providing content for the cutting edge media of radio, television, and of course internet.
Governments started a network of airports, literally building capacity for future commercial airlines, even in competition with railway lines and seaports. Governments compare themselves and compete with each other, which is one reason why Frankfurt has an international airport to rival London's Heathrow, and why Australians will keep making jokes about their internet being worse than Kazakhstan, Romania, South Africa, and even New Zealand.
In the next phase, corporations become more involved, if only because they're the only vehicle for limitless investment in the technology and its potential. Governments create a new market, and new operators find services to provide there. Without Google providing searching, indexing, caching, and analytical services, someone else would (even if they were sub/national libraries, archives, and research institutions). Without iTunes providing cheap IP licensing and access to valuable back catalogues, the likes of Napster, Kazaa, and Megaupload allowed file conversion and sharing of music and videos freely.
Often, there's a final phase, when government becomes a customer for the newly unleashed applications of technology. A high concept example is the demand for facial and voice recognition, and "big data" has become a ubiquitous computing industry fixation. As for geocaches, I can already see how useful they can be for local and national tourism bodies, and a further innovation for museum and gallery provision.