According to a new research report by Berg Insight, mobile location-based service (LBS) revenues in Europe are forecasted to grow from € 735 million in 2013 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.8 percent to reach € 2.3 billion in 2018. The North American LBS market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 16.1 percent from US$ 1.8 billion in 2013 to reach US$ 3.8 billion in 2018. The main growth will come from increasing ad revenues in the social networking and local search segments. Berg Insight estimates that about 50 percent of all mobile subscribers in Europe were frequent users of at least one location-based service at the end of 2013. In North America where adoption of GPS-enabled handsets is still somewhat higher, an estimated 60 percent of all handset users now access location-based services at least monthly.
The social networking and entertainment category has now become the largest LBS segment both in terms of number of active users and revenues. It comprises a broad set of services that can be segmented into general social networking, messaging apps, friendfinders and games. Mapping and navigation is the second largest segment in terms of revenues and the third largest in terms of number of active users. Local search is now the second largest LBS category in terms of active users and the third largest in terms of revenues. “Advertising is the main source of revenues for most consumer oriented LBS”, said André Malm, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. He adds that the increase in number of active users and usage of LBS has now also resulted in significant revenue growth. “Revenues are however far from evenly distributed as major players including Facebook and Google with broad audiences have attracted the majority of ad spend”. Mobile operators no longer hold a central role in the consumer LBS ecosystem that is now dominated by OTT players that leverage location data from handsets and on-device app stores for distribution. Instead, mobile operators are exploring opportunities in the enterprise and B2B market where network-based location data can be used for a wide range of services such as asset tracking, fraud management, secure authentication and location-based advertising. “Some mobile operators have also started to collect passive location information of subscribers for use in mobile analytics services”, said Mr Malm. This anonymous bulk location data can be used to improve the performance of mobile networks and support operators’ internal marketing campaigns. Location analytics data is also being adopted for diverse purposes such as site selection in the retail industry, as well as for urban planning and traffic monitoring by public authorities and private companies.
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