Market research in poorly defined emerging markets is frustrating as well as expensive. GPS is of interest to me and IMS Research, a supplier of market research and consultancy services on a wide range of global electronics markets, follows GPS and the market place forces that influence the general marketplace. IMS and others create any number of great reports that can be bought that can help explain trends and situations within sectors of industry. The many-paged reports can also cost many thousands of dollars but if they confirm and refine hard to establish market organization, trends, and likely competitive factors, they are well worth their fees. If you can not afford the full report, the same companies tend to release via press releases enough detail to understand the macros. (Whew - that disclosure behind)...
I went looking through their press releases to see what sort of insight they were sharing. I found several interesting teasers that make even more sense when arranged together? I have tried to weave their content from several "report teasers" to flesh-in how the general GPS market place is moving. GPS that once was the domain of many tens of thousand of dollars for a system that in current mass-application chip terms is now more accurate and may fetch on a several dollar fee. As GPS has passed from its military use to land survey and now to the millions if not soon billions massive new opportunities are emerging. Essentially not only is Nokia likely the world's number one camera integrator and quickly becoming the world's number one GPS integrator. And that simple reality has more or less diminished Kodak, killed Polaroid, and shifted the fortunes of established GPS chip designers to new comers.
What comes next is content from the several report links from IMS press releases merged to form I believe an interesting story?
With media attention currently focused on GPS-enabled cellular handsets and PNDs, the potential of emerging vertical markets for GPS and location services are going unnoticed by many.
A bumper Christmas market is set to make GPS the hottest new feature in the cellular market. Taking the huge CDMA GPS market aside, GPS-enabled handsets are set to greatly outnumber PND shipments in 2008.
GPS chips and other location technologies are being included in markets such as laptops, digital cameras and game consoles. Tom Arran, Market Analyst at IMS Research covering these GPS markets, said “GPS is a hot technology at the moment and collectively these markets represent huge potential. The non-cellular GPS market is set to increase over 6 fold. However, GPS is not infallible and its proliferation is bringing indoor performance to the fore”.
How all this potential is to be effected by macro economic factors is yet unknown although there are some trends that likely are part of the forcast .
In the new report, “WW Market for GPS/GNSS in Portable Devices”, the GPS market is forecast to increase by over $200 million between 2008 and 2009. IMS Research Analyst, Tom Arran, states “2008 was the breakout year for GPS in mobile phones. In 2009 GPS will begin to penetrate into a range of vertical markets, such as cameras, laptops, UMPCs, sporting equipment and first responder radios. This will help to drive shipment growth of over 25% YoY”.
Despite a significant increase in revenue in 2009, IMS Research believes that the best is yet to come. Arran goes on to say “2009 will not be booming year for GPS in portable devices. Looking beyond the current economic turbulence, IMS Research is forecasting the overall market for GPS to demonstrate a 21.2% CAGR between 2008 and 2013.
“There is still a lot of untapped potential and the GPS market needs to mature before breaking the 500 million units per year barrier. One of the more general issues is poor performance in challenging environments. GPS manufacturers need to start seriously considering hybrid location in their offering.
OEMs in these markets can use GPS to differentiate their product, while also drive new service revenue streams. Furthermore, location is emerging as a key component of future offerings from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Intel, Mozilla and Ericsson. This will enable a host of new services across all key vertical markets, which in turn will further drive the uptake of GPS”.
While cellular shipments are set to outweigh PND forecasts for 2008, IMS Research believes that talk of a saturating PND market are premature. “Despite the huge success of PNDs, there is still a comparatively small installed base of users, leaving plenty of market upside. Both of these markets will continue to grow concurrently in the medium term, but importantly, they are not independent. Already, companies such as NiM, Telmap and TeleNav are seeing increasing subscription numbers for their cellular sat-nav services. Clearly this is at the expense of the PND market.
Each vertical market has its own requirements, technical and cost limitations, services and opportunities. There are now a myriad of ways to implement accurate location technologies, via GPS or otherwise. IMS Research believes that companies will require a variety of different GPS, connectivity and indoor location technology combinations to address these markets effectively.
In the camera market, IMS Research has felt for some time that geotagging is set to be the next big trend. Already, online communities like Panoramio are hosting over 2 million photos which have been ‘geotagged’. Embedding location technologies on cameras brings a more user friendly version to the masses, driving uptake. Arran added, “I think we will see this eventually being adopted across the whole camera market, from holiday makers to professionals. New compact cameras such as the Nikon P6000 have GPS inbuilt whilst SLR cameras have had external GPS devices since 2006. However, cameras have limited space, size and cost margins, while TTFFs must be almost instantaneous for geotagging. Looking beyond existing GPS designs, innovative approaches from Geotate (software GPS) and Air Semi (dynamic, continuous GPS) are purpose built“.
>> This is an interesting graph from IMS. It traces three estimates of smartphones and feature rich handsets. The intersection of two or three elements of successful geotagging, mapping, location, and imagery seems increasingly liley. My guesstimate would be that all touchphones will come featured to make geotagged imagery and that the large portion of the non-touch smartphones will all so make geotagged imagery. In the graph each line is 200 million "new" units per year. That signals in 2010 there will be some 300 million new units of smartphones and possibly as many as 100 million touchscreen smart phones.>>
Touchscreen-equipped mobile handsets sales have been building steadily for over a year now, and a new report from IMS Research forecasts that growth will become even stronger. Although there were fewer than 30 million touchscreen phones sold in 2007, IMS Research expect that number to increase to over 230 million by 2012.
There are numerous signs that touchscreens are poised to significantly increase their presence in the mobile handset market. Recent reports and announcements from the three largest mobile phone manufacturers have highlighted a trend in the increased production of phones using touch technology. In July, LG revealed that it had sold 7 million touchscreen handsets. This announcement came just five quarters after LG launched its very first touchscreen mobile phone. Showing similar success, Samsung recently released the Instinct, a full touchscreen handset, through Sprint. Just one week after the launch, Sprint announced that the Instinct had already become the best selling EV-DO device in the carrier’s history. Not to be outdone, Apple reported selling 1 million of the new 3G iPhone handsets in just the first three days of its release.
According to IMS Research analyst and report author Femi Omoni, “The original iPhone was the catalyst that created this huge market interest in touchscreen phones. The fact that it was not only popular with consumers, but also helped drive data revenues proved how important touchscreen handsets can be. Now all of the network operators and handset anufacturers want a piece of the pie.”
The impressive growth that IMS Research is predicting will not be driven solely by the smartphone segment either. According to the IMS Research report Touchscreens & Input Technologies for Mobile Handsets, touchscreens will increasingly penetrate the much larger feature phone segment. In fact, Nokia just announced that its initial foray into the touchscreen market will be targeted at the “volume market” because that segment of the population is the largest consumer of mobile phones.