2011 LBS perspectives

2011 LBS perspectives

Motti Kushnir
Motti Kushnir

Telmap’s Motti Kushnir on where he sees the location-based market going in 2011.

Looking to 2011, Telmap, global leaders of location-based services identifies a few key developments in the LBS industry and shares its perspective and what’s next in LBS.

Speaking on behalf of Telmap, Motti Kushnir, Telmap’s chief marketing officer, said that in 2010 location-based services have made a major shift towards becoming mass market services, especially basic navigation. End users have come to expect to get a well-designed navigation service for free as they view it as a basic layer of any location-based service. It’s important to note that at the same time, users are not willing to compromise on the quality of service (maps, timely information, etc.). Hence, LBS prospects for 2011 shift from providing users with great navigation to providing them with an array of location-based services that go beyond navigation.

According to Kushnir, the top nine trends in LBS to look out for in 2011 are:

 

Location as a constantly active infrastructure layer

Location has become an infrastructure layer that’s constantly active on devices, available to optimize a variety of services and activities that are managed through today’s devices.  In order to keep the location layer active at all times, devices will be able to seamlessly draw location-data through a variety of location technologies, whether it’s WiFi, Cell-ID, GPS signal, or NFC. These transitions in most cases are transparent to users, who can enjoy location-features no matter where and when they may need them.

 

Social activity on the mobile integrates location

More and more users are now managing their social networking activities on their mobile and this trend is expected to grow even further in 2011. A clear indication of that is that in February 2010 Facebook has reached 100 million mobile users and in August 2010, merely 8 months later, this number doubled to 200 million.

Consumers are now creating, posting and sharing helpful, relevant, real-time user generated content, and in many cases they do so through their familiar web-based social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, both of which have added location capabilities to their offering during 2010.

During 2011 we expect to see a proliferation of services leveraging these added location features, pushing even further consumers’ awareness and usage of location in their day-to-day mobile activities. As a result users will now have access to reviews, recommendations and group-buying offers (such as Groupon) with location-filters added to them. Users will be able to access this type of benefits that are relevant to their current location, making their on-the-go experience richer, and more efficient and enjoyable.

 

Driving and navigation will be enriched

As online communities go mobile, and share retail, commercial and social information, it’s only natural that they will also share road and driving related content. Speed cameras, police traps, traffic jams, road closures, road incidents and more, will be shared among community members.

This user generated content will be added to data from official, quality content providers and will be used to enrich the officially supplied content as well as to validate it.

The combination of data from content providers, together with the drivers-community generated content will make for a smoother, safer navigation and driving experience. The mass necessary for this type of combined information to be accurate and efficient will become a reality in many territories during 2011.

 

Tracking is out, sharing is in

We have seen in recent years several attempts to create tracking services. One example of such as service is Google Latitude. These services never reached mass market usage and popularity.

We believe that’s due to the fact that users clearly do not want to be tracked at any time, and prefer to willingly share their location information whenever it’s relevant to the people they communicate with; to the activity they engage in; on a limited-time, limited-group basis. We believe that location-based services will need to seek user approval to share location information, in order to maintain users’ trust and sense of control.

 

Ultra local experience

Users in most cases, use LBS to explore their home environment in the micro level, neighbourhood, city and sometimes country. Users will seek services that will help them seamlessly pay for local services (e.g, parking), book tickets and make reservations to local events and venues (e.g, movies, concerts and restaurants), communicate with their local community about local happenings, compare prices for day to day purchases (e.g, gas), and more. 

The quality of the day to day, local experience is a key success factor for any location-based service. Therefore, we will see more and more ultra local content providers that enable accurate up-to-date search and discovery in users’ immediate vicinity.

 

Cross mobile operator and network cooperation

Mobile operators understand the power of location, and its role in optimising end user experiences. Therefore, we believe that operators will continue to make headway in providing location-capabilities to their subscribers.

Operators understand that in order to do that successfully they need to work together, and create interoperability and openness across networks and operators, similar to what has been achieved for SMS. Therefore, virtual borders will fall during 2011 and location-based services will flow across mobile networks, operating systems, devices, social networks, etc.

Providers who can serve as a central platform for a meaningful cluster of location-based interactions will become more popular and sought after by operators who understand that their subscribers are looking to interact with people and local businesses in their close vicinity, on a day to day basis, all from once place. 

 

Relevant, personal retail offers

2011 is expected to be a big year for mobile advertising after a lot of experimentation has taken place in recent years, and currently most major brands consider mobile as an integral part of their media channels, driven by the reach and interactivity of smart phones and their constantly-increasing user base. 

Therefore it’s only natural that the hype and usage around LBS, combined with the mobile advertising evolution can drive monetisation of LBS. It definitely presents new opportunities to generate revenue streams through location-based advertising, combined with relevant and personal retail offers.

With the location element added, offers can be highly contextualised, relevant and timely. LBS can offer a variety of formats to advertisers, such as sponsored search results, branded POIs, banners, coupons and vouchers, creating enormous conversion potential. By considering user behaviour, search history and profile information ads and promotions can be highly targeted and engaging, offering a variety of calls-for-action such as view offer/business details, click-to-call, browse, map, share with a friend, and of course drive-to a location. Users can find this extremely beneficial, and even cost-saving, especially as many economies are still recovering from the world economic crisis.

 

Quality mapping is the basis to all

As many location-based services are now expected for free, we saw in 2010 many providers turn to free, user-generated maps. As location-based services are many times time sensitive and require high immediacy level, we believe that quality maps are crucial in order to provide excellent LBS, and that user-generated maps are not yet there.

Although it’s still costly and time consuming to provide good maps that result in razor-sharp accurate navigation, or any other well designed LBS offering, but it’s also crucial. Therefore, we believe that quality, long-lasting LBS providers will continue to rely in the future on official, quality content providers, combined with a certain level of user-generated content and maps. Cross referencing and verifications between the two sources will be used to guarantee quality level and timeliness of information.

 

LBS landscape is changing

We have seen a lot of turmoil in the LBS landscape during 2010. We believe that in 2011, Nokia’s LBS presence in Europe will weaken. The smart phone arena is the most relevant arena for LBS, where such services prosper.

Nokia is constantly making significant efforts in the smart phone arena but still, the average Nokia user, even after purchasing a smart phone, doesn’t regularly use the added smart phone capabilities, but rather continue to use the basic functionalities of a feature phone, mainly voice and text messaging.

As for Google’s LBS presence, we believe that it will continue to make strides and progress. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s only supported by Android devices will limit their ability to become the location infrastructure standard in mobile.

Telmap firmly believes that 2011 is the year when location-based services will go beyond navigation, to serve all of users’ day to day needs while out and about. Therefore, Telmap has designed its mobile location companion as a centralised platform that serves as a social portal, shopping guide, and personal concierge; virtually a meeting place for all things needed for a rich on the go experience.