Location-Based Services Pinpoint Success: eMarketer

Can you find me now?

JULY 14, 2009 – Consumers are using GPS-enabled mobile devices to navigate their worlds with applications to find local businesses, one another and even family pets.

Gartner is predicting huge gains for mobile location-based services (LBS) in 2009. The firm estimates that total LBS subscribers will more than double worldwide this year, to 95.7 million.

“The LBS industry has matured rapidly in recent months through a mixture of consolidation, improved price/performance of the enabling technologies and compelling location applications,” said Annette Zimmermann, Gartner analyst.

Worldwide revenues from consumer location-based services were under $1 billion in 2008, but Gartner projects they will top $2.2 billion this year. North America’s share will be the largest, at $713.7 million.

“Subscriber growth will hinge on �free,'” said Ms. Zimmermann. “The competitive landscape will change and most mobile carriers need to alter their approach toward offering LBS and dealing with developers.”

Currently, about 10% to 15% of users in North America and Western Europe take advantage of free services. The researcher expects that share to climb to between 40% and 50% by 2013.

The rise of mobile applications and availability of a wider variety of location-based services will continue to fuel popularity�and new mobile marketing opportunities. Locally tailored digital coupons, for example, will go hand in hand with local search.

For now, good old-fashioned navigation applications are still popular in Europe and North America.

“We’ll continue to see good growth in a lot of the navigation services,” said Alex Bloom, CEO of mobile app creator Handango. “Now instead of having to have two devices, a navigation device and a phone, navigation apps on these GPS-enabled devices might be the catalyst to attract a whole group of people that had stayed away before.”

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