GPS gets everywhere says Canalys

Almost half of all smart phones shipping in EMEA have GPS integrated, according to the latest figures from Canalys.

EMEA smart phone shipments reached 12.6 million in Q2 2008, up 28% on the figure one year ago, the research shows. Growth slowed from Q1 2008, when it was 44%, to the lowest figure seen for 18 months, but total shipments of 12.6 million still made it the second biggest quarter ever in volume terms.

Despite this, it was the second biggest quarter on record for smart phone shipments in the region, Canalys said. Additionally, 38% of these smart phones had built-in GPS, while 58% had integrated WiFi. Devices with touch screens represented 13% of the smart phone market

However, battery life must improve to enable users to get the most from their devices, the research firm stated.

Nokia remained the market leader by some margin, but the other vendors in the top five posted much higher than average year on year growth, with RIM in second placeclosing the market share gap by several points, and HTC, Motorola and Samsung more than doubling their shipments, Canalys said.

The research further showed that both HTC and RIM have been making steady progress toward the one million shipments per quarter mark in EMEA and are now very close to each other in market share terms, but it is possible that they will be overtaken by Apple in Q3 following the launch of the iPhone 3G in many countries in the region.

The smart phone market continues to be boosted by user demand for high-end features, Canalys commented. This is unlikely to be dramatically affected by the economic situation in the short term, though operators will likely become even more unwilling to heavily subsidise high end devices without adequate proof of return, and contract lengths and the time between upgrades are expected to increase. Canalys estimates that 58% of the smart phones that shipped in EMEA in Q2 had integrated Wi-Fi, 13% had stylus or finger-driven touch screens and 38% had integrated GPS.

Canalys senior analyst, Pete Cunningham, stated: “Today, many owners are not making full use of their smart phone’s features. Concern over usage costs is still a big barrier, though wider availability of flat rate data plans will help, and usability still needs to improve for certain applications on many devices. People are also wary of draining their battery and not being able to make calls. Battery life isn’t helped by having GPS and Wi-Fi turned on, nor by having a large, bright screen for navigation or web browsing. But there is clear demand for those features and applications, and advances in battery technology would enable quite substantial changes in usage patterns, with all the service revenue benefits that would bring.”