Blog Post

Broadband & Location Turning Mobile Into a $1T Business

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Mobile voice and data revenues will create a trillion-dollar global market by 2014 as complementary products such as advertising, applications and web services are built for users on the go according to Gartner (s it). The research firm  also sees continuing device evolution (read: connected tablets, e-readers and the like) but expects laptops and smartphones to continue as the dominant mobile devices for both consumers and knowledge workers. Wireless connectivity is key to this growth, but it’s no longer the sole driver: location — or context, as Gartner calls it — is fast becoming a mobile enabler as well.

In less than a decade, we’ve seen three distinct mobile eras, says Gartner: a past one of devices, the current multi-million dollar app economy era and soon, a service and social era powered by location and connectivity. Helping to take the world into the service era are robust platforms, such as HTML5, that will provide feature-rich web apps to rock our worlds. Linking such apps with context will provide a more personalized mobile experience.

Gartner anaylst Nik Jones notes the importance that location will bring to mobility:

Context will also be a key criteria for the selection of partners. Many mobile business systems will exploit contextual cloud services hosted by others. It will also be a major commercial battleground with powerful vendors such as Nokia, Google, and Apple striving to own the consumer’s context. Context will also be bound up with social relationships and social networks, illustrated today by services such as location-tagged posts to Facebook and Twitter.

As much as wireless broadband has primarily enabled mobile lifestyles to date, the importance of user context is appearing more and more in my conversations with industry sources. Today we’re seeing the simple benefits of location: finding friends or places of importance nearby or ads we may want to see in specific geo-fenced areas, for example. Context and location could drive user interfaces of future mobile devices, build maps of activities we’ve done, and will surely play a big role in augmented reality applications.

Put another way: Maps already provide an interface that’s intuitively understandable by most people on the planet. If such an interface is paired with connectivity and services in the future, context itself could be a bigger driver of mobility than plain old wireless broadband. Broadband connects us to the cloud, but linking our location to the cloud opens up a new world of possibilities.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):

6 Responses to “Broadband & Location Turning Mobile Into a $1T Business”

  1. Todd – although it wasn’t obvious in the headline of the post, the Forrester research focused on a very narrow slice of location-based services, namely sharing one’s location with others in one’s social network. See my critique in the comments and Rob Reed’s note in the link you cite.

    Dr. Phil Hendrix, immr and GigaOm Pro analyst

  2. Location is at the center of an extraordinary wave of innnovation, as outlined in my GigaOm Pro report “Location – the Epicenter of Mobile Innovation.” Given the enormous pent-up demand for location-aware services, the opportunities for companies building infrastructure and solutions are enormous. There is a pressing need for more precise and ubiquitous location determination, especially solutions that overcome problems plaguing GPS indoors and in urban canyons. In addition, applications tied to location, like Retailigence (“where can I find a product in stock locally?”), ReserveX (applying yield management to sell tickets to “nearby” events), others that are beginning to use geo-fencing, like PinPoint (fraud prevention), and many other location-based innovations will be indispensable to end-users, retailers and advertisers alike. Finally, location is enabling an entirely new generation of capabilities on mobile devices, including AR, image recognition, proximity search and many many others. While estimating the size of a nascent market (yes, LBS is still nascent) is fraught with error, I’m confident that location-based opportunities are virtually unlimited. An important and still unanswered question is which companies and business models will be successful in monetizing location over time.

    For a summary and further discussion, see

    Dr. Phil Hendrix, immr and GigaOm Pro analyst