Although Gartner predicts a 4 percent drop in mobile device sales this year, that won’t stop the LBS train from steaming up the tracks. Gartner expects the subscriber base for location-based services to more than double in 2009, growing to 95.7 million this year from 41 million people in 2008. The same trend holds true for LBS revenues, as shown by the Gartner chart. I would have thought that location apps and services would be held up by the need for a GPS radio in devices, but alternative methods can work just as well. Wi-Fi triangulation may actually have more of an impact on this market than GPS, since Wi-Fi radios are essentially standard fare in most mobile devices today.
Gartner found regional differences in what LBS is used for as well. Here in North America, the carriers are eager to sell revenue-adding navigational services, making that and family safety solutions the common LBS uses. Navigation is key in Western Europe as well, but folks there don’t seem to track their kids with a cellular phone as some do here. Japan is home to local searching and friend finders. With the population so dense in some urban areas there, that makes sense. It’s also totally different from my local area. I wonder if the cows wear GPS tags?
I actually see those cows during my running activities, and while they may not have a GPS tag, I do. I’m testing RunKeeper Pro, an iPhone application that uses the GPS radio in my phone to track my run. Here’s a screenshot from an easy 5k earlier this week, in preparation for a 5k race this evening. Aside from basic tracking, the GPS functionality offers pace, elevation, distance and more. And since we’re dealing with GPS data, it’s drop-dead easy to view my route on a map. I’ll have more to say on the app later, but for now, I’m using LBS more each day. What LBS apps are you using on a regular basis?