Convergence Of Smart Phone Affordability And Broad Network Access Drives Growth In Location Based Services

I’ve been a big fan of location based services (LBS).  In fact, many of you have followed my whereabouts on Yelp, Tripit, and other integrated Twitter services.  As many of you know, location based services take your geographical position from your mobile device and deliver relevant information services based on your relationship to people, objects, places, etc.  In the 2010 Pew Research Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, surveys showed, 4% of Americans utilized Location Based Services (LBS) (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Layar’s Augmented Reality location based service (LBS).

Layar - Augmented Reality and Location Based Services

Constellation Research, Inc. estimates these services to grow and generate up to $10.7B in revenue by 2013.  Among the early adopter set, LBS is on fire.  Among the general population, growth will most likely trend with smartphone adoption, which market research firm IDC estimates a 55% growth from 2009 to 2010 (~270 million units).  You do the math!

As one of those early adopters, I and many others have enjoyed LBS from a consumer tech point of view to:

  • Navigate around places.  Use turn by turn navigation and traffic maps through services such as Google Navigation and Yahoo! Maps.
  • Identify events to attend. See where my friends are by date and location to make time to catch up using Loopt, Rummble, and Tripit.
  • Locate friends near me.  Catch up with people near me using Foursquare and Gowalla as a matter of convenience.  In some cases, track people by mobile device location.
  • Reduce traffic fines. Warn and be warned where speed traps, sobriety check points, and cameras through crowdsourcing apps such as Trapster and Phantom Alert
  • Find places to eat.  Follow foodie friends to see where they check in on Yelp.
  • Receive offers from merchants. Get rewarded for checking in to locations with discounts from merchants.  Take advantage of M-commerce (mobile).

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