Global shipments of mobile handsets equipped with GPS capability will more than quadruple from 2006 to 2011 because of the U.S. government’s mandate for emergency 911 (E911) capability, as well as wireless operators’ initiatives to offer LBS, iSuppli Corp. said Thursday. GPS-equipped mobile handset shipments will increase to 444 million units by 2011, rising from 109.6 million units in 2006, according to the market research firm. By 2011, 29.6 percent of all mobile phones shipped will have GPS capability, up from 11.1 percent in 2006.
"Besides cameras, multimedia capabilities and connectivity solutions, mobile-handset OEMs increasingly are investigating the integration of GPS functionality in mobile devices as a value-added product differentiator," said Tina Teng, iSuppli wireless communications analyst. "Wireless carriers are looking at introducing various new GPS-based, revenue-generating services to increase average revenue per user (ARPU)."
"Location-based services have been slow to take off in the United States, but these research findings clearly show that the U.S. market is getting good traction," said Robert Morrison, TruePosition's senior vice president of market and business development. "Due to the rise in navigation systems in cars and websites that provide directions and points of interest, both consumers and enterprises in the United States are now grasping the concept of location-based services, and they have very specific ideas about how they should work."
The study asked consumers and enterprises in the United States exactly what they want and expect from the following LBS: child monitoring, medical and senior-citizen monitoring, pet tracking, navigation, traffic, stolen vehicle recovery, social networking, local search, fleet tracking, and workforce management.
When selecting the features that were most important to mobile navigation services, people ranked the ability to use the service in dense metropolitan areas first, according to IDC. The ability to use the service nationwide was second, and re-routing was the third feature.
As for local search, more than half of consumers are receptive to advertisement-sponsored local search services, which could prove to be a significant new source of revenue for mobile operators. Local search on cell phones looks to be the low-hanging LBS fruit for the wireless operator community, but only if they can agree on a free-advertising-based business model. Only 25 percent of those surveyed would consider paying for the service, IDC said.
The survey also found that security seems to be a key factor in determining whether location-enabled mobile social networking will take off. Consumers are unlikely to subscribe to these types of services unless service accessibility can be limited to authorized users and a process is in place to keep out strangers.
Overall, consumers revealed that they were extremely receptive to location-based services, providing they perform at the optimum levels—essentially, working wherever and whenever their mobile phone worked, IDC found. The majority of the respondents wanted the services to work in several different types of environments (outdoors, indoors and in vehicles), desired sub-50-meter accuracy, and required a sub-15-second response time.
But What Do Businesses Want from LBS?
From an enterprise perspective, LBS user preferences between the three geographies were remarkably similar. Workforce management and fleet tracking services were highlighted as the most prevalent uses of LBS by businesses. Some 74 percent of respondents to the survey viewed productivity improvements as a key benefit, while 69 percent saw cost savings as another key benefits. Also, businesses ranked the safety and security of their workers as the most important feature, with ease of implementation coming in at a close second.
SiRF Technology Holdings Inc. unveiled its SiRFecosystem strategy and introduced SiRFstudio, a standards-based, end-to-end LBS platform.
SiRFstudio is designed to simplify and speed the development and deployment of location-aware applications across a broad range of mobile devices, SiRF says. It is part of what SiRF has dubbed its SiRFecosystem, a suite of tools and resources to speed development, testing, deployment and marketing of LBS applications that drive higher average revenue per user. More than one hundred companies worldwide are already participating in the SiRFecosystem LBS developer community, according to SiRF.
SiRFstudio intends to make location an intrinsic and useful part of every mobile device, combining with and enhancing applications people use the most from calling, messaging and browsing to address books, calendars and e-mail, the company says. It is a superset of the JSR-179 location (application programming interface) API, supporting multiple integrated development environments such as Java Wireless Toolkit 2.3, and offers software developers standard APIs for accessing location capabilities across multiple devices, operating systems and location technologies.
Today the revenues wireless service providers receive for voice services far exceed those they receive for data services, SiRF observes. In contrast, in the U.S. and many other countries, wire-line data revenues already exceed voice revenues, and wireless service providers are understandably eager to close this gap. SiRF believes wireless data revenues will follow a similar trend, and that location will be a key contributor in closing this revenue gap by providing a context for mobile content, the company says.
The Lowdown on SiRFstudio
SiRFstudio comprises both client and server components. The SiRFstudio thin client resides on the mobile device and provides developer-facing APIs for the rapid development and integration of location-enabled applications.
SiRFstudio Server has a multi-protocol gateway that receives requests for location data from the SiRFstudio client over any available wireless link and delivers the available location data back to it. SiRFstudio Server interfaces with most of the major geospatial data platforms worldwide, including Autodesk, ESRI, Webraska, Navitime, Microsoft, DeCarta, Telmap, Maporama, Tele Atlas and Navteq, among others, the company says.
SiRFstudio Server's location intelligence capabilities support peer-to-peer location to communicate user location with others, geo-annotation to create location-based user content, geo-publishing for location-based RSS and real-time feeds and a geo-agent for event-driven alerts based on time, location, speed, heading or motion. The SiRFstudio Server vending machine interface provides a turnkey solution for both on-deck and off-deck content distribution, the company says.