London, 06th July 2004....Launched as one of the killer applications for WAP and as the ideal marketing tool for mobile operators’ customers, location based services (LBS) have fallen far short of expectations. To maximise potential, LBS technology (offering location-sensitive information and tracking services) should be leveraged as an enabler for value-added services rather than as a stand-alone service revenue generator, reveals new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.
Location based services’ lacklustre performance since its European debut in 1999 has been attributed to poor technology and the lack of network infrastructure. Inaccurate location positioning information, substandard performance, the limitations of handsets as an interface, and overall dissatisfaction exhibited by initial WAP users has dampened revenue generation.
By 2007, the European LBS market is forecast to amass EUR 200 million. At this point, LBS-enabled services are estimated to account for 10 per cent of mobile value-added services but less than one per cent of mobile data revenues. Messaging will continue to provide the bulk of mobile data revenues in the medium term.
One of the key drivers in the provision of LBS in future is expected to be the need to generate data revenues. "Operators want to gain extra revenue from data, and thus, try to push value-added data services. Demand for voice services is not increasing and operators need a product differential to generate data revenues. Data revenues are important because of the inherent transmission capacity now available with GPRS and 3G that needs to be leveraged," explains Frost & Sullivan (
Operators looking to recoup their investments in 3G have found that successful mobile data services have been limited mainly to fun, youth-oriented applications such as SMS, ring tones, logos and games. However, while SMS and ring tones enjoy phenomenal popularity, LBS’ wider target audience - comprising both consumer and business markets - is expected to work to its advantage.
By facilitating ‘localised’ marketing and improved CRM for retail brands, restaurants, cinemas (such as special offers, impulse buys, and last minute deals), LBS presents an effective marketing tool for commercial enterprises. With the full potential of mobile marketing yet untapped, several revenue-generating opportunities still remain.
At present, the business sector represents the most profitable area for LBS applications. Here, LBS fulfils real business needs and exhibits superior efficiency and cost benefits in comparison to alternative technologies such as GPS devices. For instance, LBS can enable improved processes such as workflow management (presence management).
LBS is set to have particular appeal for business customers in the freight and logistics verticals with fleet management (vehicle tracking), asset tracking (tracking inventory) and security applications poised to become the highest revenue generating usage areas.
In contrast, the uptake of LBS in the consumer sector has been sluggish. For a start, it has been hampered by the lack of a killer application. While directory services have offered a profitable revenue stream for operators, their sporadic use has been compounded by technical pitfalls such as inconsistent and slow information feeds. Price and privacy concerns have further limited the potential for LBS in the consumer market.
With the objective of meeting the ‘real needs’ of users, operators need to focus on their business customer base in the short term and on their consumer base in the long term. Building on their exceptional ability to identify an end user’s location, niche applications are set to be developed for the consumer mass market. These services include both people and asset tracking and navigation services.
"LBS can also be used as an enabler to enhance the users’ experience of existing services such as directory services, presence and ‘diary’ management, unified messaging and information services such as traffic and travel news," adds Mr Younghusband.
For LBS services to succeed, greater co-operation between technology providers, network operators and content providers is a pre-requisite. In conjunction with equipment vendors and systems developers, operators need to boost the performance of LBS.
At the same time, operators need to co-operate among themselves to develop and replicate standard services across networks and countries (for instance - directory services) with an intuitive interface. This is anticipated to promote both interest in, and usage of LBS. Constructing a platform of cross network and roaming facilities for LBS services is expected to help make LBS a truly useful service for the mass market.
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Title: Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis Of The European Market For Mobile Location Based Services Code: B406
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