Friday, June 02, 2006

Where in the world am I? Your phone might know

USA TODAY looks at the growing number of mobile location-based services (LBS) being rolled out by the U.S,. network operators., such as the recently launched Family Locator from Sprint (S). The article cites research from Frost & Sullivan that "forecasts the total LBS market in the USA to exceed $600 million in 2008, up from about $90 million at the end of 2005.

Ken Hyers at ABI Research said, "There seems to be a fair level of commitment to the technology now, giving a big sigh of relief that it is finally happening."

On the busisness use side, In-Stat predicts growth from 582,000 to 1.1 million subscribed devices by the end of 2010.

While hyped for a long time, LBS is starting to gain traction from a technology standpoint as operators roll out 3G networks and more handsets "incorporate GPS chips, partly as a response by carriers to a government-mandated Enhanced 911 program that was phased in at the end of last year. Uncle Sam wanted emergency workers to find folks who dial 911 from their cells."

Brent Iadarola at Frost & Sullivan expected the "LBS market to get an additional boost in a couple of years when carriers such as Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile add GPS capabilities." He added, "The big applications we expect to drive LBS adoption are those services that have already succeeded in some capacity but are enhanced and become more compelling by integrating location."

The article examines some of the companies and their efforts to address this very nascent market. With the technology slowly rolling into place, it will be critical for the industry to develop the right business and usage models for users to take advantage of LBS.

Just being able pinpoint the location of something or someone is not enough. Allyn Hall at In-Stat said skeptically, "When I call my wife and want to know where she is, I ask her."

I guess he doesn't need to spend 10 bucks a month to locate his family...