The main drivers of this off-deck LBS revolution are the sudden rise in popularity of a new generation of touch-screen GPS-enabled smartphones, combined with a wide range of application stores launched by handset and mobile operating system vendors, says ABI Research practice director Dominique Bonte. While Apple has set the stage with the iPhone/iTunes platform, it is now being copied by Google (Android), RIM, Nokia (Symbian), and Microsoft (Windows Mobile), allowing smaller LBS developers to compete with traditional off-deck LBS players such as Telenav, Networks in Motion, and Loopt. This competition results from a lower cost structure based on crowd-sourced location content, advertising-funded business models, alternative positioning technologies, and viral marketing techniques.
However, the nascent off-deck LBS environment is already threatened by looming fragmentation both within and between platforms, and by increasing uncertainty surrounding viable business models, with the ubiquitous freemium and ad-funded approaches illustrating end users limited willingness to pay. Googles recent announcement offering free turn-by-turn navigation on Android phones has cast further doubt on the prospects for monetizing off-deck LBS, while at the same time undermining the valuation of established hardware players such as Garmin and TomTom, despite both companies recently having launched handset-based products.
While stand-alone off-deck LBS applications will continue to flourish in the coming years, in the longer term they will be gradually replaced by embedded location services such as geo-enabled browsers, location-aware messaging, micro-blogging and other mobile services: these integrated solutions will offer a superior user experience to the average consumer, compared with downloading and managing a portfolio of separate applications.
ABI Researchs new Off-Deck LBS study examines the drivers behind this fast-growing segment. It includes descriptions of off-deck LBS pricing, business models, and value chains technologies, players, and activation and revenue forecasts per region, LBS application category and smartphone platform. This report is part of the Location Based Services Research Service.
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