Now, a number of factors – including the development of third-party location databases and technologies – are poised to finally drive real LBS market growth on mobile phones.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), North America Consumer Location-Based Services (LBS) Market - The Wireless Carrier Opportunity, estimates that carrier-generated consumer LBS revenues totaled over $480 million in 2008 and projects this figure to surpass $3.0 billion in 2013.
If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, technology developers, end-users, and other industry participants with an overview of the opportunity for wireless carriers in the North American consumer LBS market, then send an email to Christina Alfaro, Corporate Communications, at christina.alfaro[.]frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company email address, company website, city, state and country. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by email.
In the North American market, wireless carriers have acted as the major channel for consumer LBS sales, leveraging the location infrastructure they had to create earlier this decade to address Federal E-911 mandates. AT&T's full entry into the consumer LBS sector now brings the brand power and subscriber bases of three major U.S. wireless carriers into play. However, other parties are beginning to chip away at the carriers' gatekeeper role.
"While A-GPS is required for precise applications such as turn-by-turn navigation or family finder services, there are many LBS applications that neither require nor desire that level of location accuracy," explains Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Jeanine Sterling. "New location mechanisms, along with third-party generated location data bases, are opening up the consumer LBS sector to new applications, new channels, and new audiences."
Cell ID can actually be "good enough" for some services; therefore, Google built its own cell tower database. Wi-Fi-based location provides strong coverage indoors, where GPS is weak, so Skyhook Wireless creates not only a Wi-Fi-based position determination technology but also a Wi-Fi access point database to go with it.
New entrants and new technologies are just two of the many forces that will drive increased adoption of consumer LBS during the next few years. However, uncertainty about how to optimally monetize this solution category remains an ongoing issue. The consumer LBS value chain remains fragmented, contributing to a diminishment in profits and making an industry shakeout inevitable. Until consolidation takes place, too many participants will continue to want a share in the revenue stream.
"To further aggravate the LBS revenue-sharing situation, we have Apple offering a wide assortment of location-based iPhone apps for free or for a one-time fee," notes Sterling. "This can be viewed as a threat to wireless carriers and to LBS application developers. Even if the ultimate goal for many LBS stakeholders is an ad-based monetization model, we still don't know yet what this arrangement will really end up looking like and which of today's industry participants will survive to enjoy it."
Pricing is just one of a list of potential adoption barriers to be addressed during the ensuing months. As various location technologies, pricing models, channels, and solutions begin to prevail among consumers, it will be key for industry stakeholders to closely monitor customer needs. Wireless carriers must determine what value-add beyond A-GPS location capability they bring to the consumer LBS market.
Major non-carrier participants, such as Apple, Google, Nokia, and Microsoft, must decide the level of participation that works to their strategic advantage. Application developers must position themselves to thrive in an environment that will offer a variety of channels directly into high-potential LBS customer segments.
North America Consumer Location-based Services (LBS) Market - The Wireless Carrier Opportunity is part of the Mobile and Wireless Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: mobile office email/PIM solutions, mobile resource management (MRM), field asset management (FAM), and mobile CRM. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan (frost.com), the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best in class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company's Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO's Growth Team with disciplined research and best practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from 31 offices on six continents.
North America Consumer Location-based Services (LBS) Market - The Wireless Carrier Opportunity / N486