Today, location is regarded more as a service enabler than necessarily a set of services in its own right. Mobile operators have been busy deploying a portfolio of mobile data services, and in this scurry to launch features such as MMS and Java, location-enabled services have been put on hold so far. Pan-European operators have so far been struggling to coordinate their overall mobile data efforts across their networks. Common location platforms are proving to be no exception – they are also taking some time to roll out.
It is still true that location is the key factor that distinguishes the mobile Internet from the fixed Internet. Location-based services are emerging as an opportunity to provide differentiation, a way to build customer loyalty and a new revenue stream. These statements are still valid, but to make it happen takes much longer than have been predicted before by all parties in the value chain.
While takeoff has been slower than expected, the signs are pointing towards more services becoming available. For example, although Europe's operators typically only offer Cell-ID based positioning, they are opening up their positioning information to third parties as well – thus enabling more application and services providers to take advantage of location data.
There are some clear operator trends today in Europe that are very positive for LBS:
- Growing competition among the operators on more mature markets.
- e-launch campaigns of LBS.
- Increasing interest in high accuracy technologies.
- Position wholesale on a larger scale.
- Emergency call within EU. There are still possibilities for mandates pushing the operators to invest in location-based services.
- New handsets offer new possibilities. More attractive LBS thanks to larger storage memory, colour screens, Java, megapixel cameras and MMS.
There is a trend of more collaboration among the vendors. This is very important since there has been a lack of collaboration and standards in the past. Several partner constellations have appeared and two examples are a group around TruePosition and one around CPS. These two partner groups have the intention to offer end-to-end solutions including everything from positioning technologies and platforms to end-user applications. To summarise, the time has come for location-based services. Operators you are in the front seat. Some final advice to the operators for making this a success:
- Make LBS part of your subscriber's everyday life.
- Use portals for ease of use – good examples are Telia Go, Vodafone Live! and 3Guru.
- Add location to your existing applications. Increase the end-user value. Sell coordinates to service providers to benefit from the wholesale business case.
- E112 positioning – fulfill legal requirements.
- Remember – marketing of LBS is vital for success.
- Some LBS tend to be very niche – target the right user groups.
Contact Berg Insight AB for the full text of the report.