“Augmented reality tools are very popular with consumers because they provide users with a depth of added understanding about their surroundings that they otherwise would not have had,” he continues. “Furthermore, applications like Foursquare and Gowalla take the LBS concept one step further, allowing users to communicate their physical location to people on their network using geo-tagging. This could be very useful to businesses seeking to target customers with real time, location-based offers.”
Jon French, executive director of UK, Ireland and South Africa at HTC, remarks that there are some incredible location-based apps, with more coming out all the time. “Augmented reality services such as Layar and the ability to search the web with pictures you have taken with Google Goggles are standout examples,” he says. “They were hard to imagine a few years ago, but have transformed the way consumers use their mobiles today.
“We’re really pleased with how popular our weather app has been with customers; GPS means your HTC phone automatically updates with the local weather, and the clock automatically updates to local time. These may seem like small details but they build a great user experience where people wouldn’t expect value to be added, as well as making life a little bit simpler for users,” adds French.
HTC Footprints is another application that uses location-based technology to provide a richer user experience. Footprints enables users to capture a digital postcard on their phone. As well as identifying each postcard with its specific GPS co-ordinates, Footprints also auto-names each postcard with the location or general area, enabling the user to retrace their steps and revisit favourite and special places.
Redmill says one use of LBS is asset management and tracking, the ability to offer fleet management and device tracking services confers many advantages, from security to cost management. The same techniques can be applied to human agents, or physical assets, providing security and assurance.
Also, Redmill notes that geofencing is another category of location-dependent billing or policy control, in which bills can be established based on location. For example, in FMC applications, users could be billed at a reduced rate when within a defined zone, such as the office. Similarly, users might be permitted to make certain categories of calls within specific areas, but not others.
Mobile ads and marketing
Leyland remarks: “Enterprise software is a multimillion dollar market and a route where LBS could succeed in the customer relationship management area. The ability to understand the location of a target customer in real time is very useful for businesses seeking to provide them with location based offers, and could be very profitable for dealers.”
Airwide product marketing manager, Jim Chou, agrees that some of the most interesting applications of LBS are in mobile marketing and advertising. “Marketers’ constant struggle to target customers more accurately can now take on new dimensions; with the inclusion of location based services and applications layered on top. Using LBS to create easier point of purchase and customer touch points in real time are the obvious benefits. But also consider LBS’ ability to let marketers’ further control brand perception and recognition on the fly.”
Some companies, such as ShopAlerts and McDonald’s, are already starting to implement located based marketing and have seen success. Chou points to ShopAlerts, an opt-in programme which delivers messages about sales to consumers as they enter a physical location. Research from ShopAlerts found that 75% of users found messages somewhat to very useful, and 73% would definitely or probably use ShopAlerts in the future. McDonald’s saw a 7% click through rate and an increase in a drive of consumers instore using their location-based mobile advertising, adds Chou.
Chou continues: “One of the strongest location use cases is when people are searching for things, like business and friends. For business that is a good thing, as they need to do little to benefit from this major use case. For example, if a business is in the yellow pages, its address will generally automatically be pulled into online directories, and then location-based apps like Google maps will display their location when a mobile phone user looks for the business using their mobile phone application.”
How to sell
Daisy’s director of mobile operations, Russell Horton, says while business people need to eat and want to be able to find the nearest hotel after a long meeting, there are other saleable LBS features which could make a huge difference to the way a business operates. “For example, there are lone worker-type solutions where organisations that have employees entering potentially hostile environments are able to track the whereabouts or last location of that person using a multitude of software based applications.
“Lone worker applications can also provide a pre-programmed panic button, whereby a user in danger can simply press a key on the device that will silently dial an emergency 24/7 response desk, or the client’s own support desk, alerting them that the user is in trouble and providing their whereabouts. The business opportunities for dealers are endless,” continues Horton.
On selling LBS, Laight observes: “It does need a solution-led approach. LBS products and services can touch so many parts of a business that it needs a structured approach. Some of our key partners are finding great success by focusing on vertical markets and becoming experts on specific sectors of in industry. It’s also clear that going back to existing clients with these types of applications enhances contract renewal and extension, which is great for the retention game and has slowed heavy customer churn rates from traditional mobile customers.”
Laight states that interesting LBS applications in the market supplement decreasing mobile connection revenues and help dealers increase revenue and margin, while building a strong ongoing revenue model within the dealer’s business, which may not have previously been a focus.
“LBS will enable a whole host of new products and services, but one theme we are witnessing now is solution convergence,” notes Laight. “In many ways it is no different from what has happened time and time again in the IT industry, where ‘integration is king’. For example, we provide employee management (tracking), turn by turn satellite navigation, job despatch and a lone worker panic alarm on one device. Even now, some end customers are still buying separate devices such as PDAs, PNDs and panic alarms to get the breadth of solution that they can instead get from us on a wide range of high street smartphones.”
|Summing up the mobile LBS market, Leyland states: “Although in its infancy, the LBS market is a hotbed of innovation and is constantly changing. The potential of LBS is still largely untapped because as yet, there isn’t a truly compelling reason for people to use it. Having said that, given the innovation and ideas that are coming to life in this space, I am confident that this breakthrough, when it comes will be very significant, and isn’t too far away.”|
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