The consumer location-based services (LBS) sector has experienced tremendous change during the past eighteen months, forcing North American wireless carriers to cope with a vastly different competitive landscape. Carrier dominance in the North American consumer LBS sector, which was carefully developed during the past decade, is now being directly assaulted by smartphone application storefronts and free off-deck solutions.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), 2010 North American Consumer Location-based Services (LBS) Market – The Wireless Carrier Opportunity, finds that the wireless carrier-generated segment of the North American consumer LBS market amounted to on-deck application software revenues of approximately $718 million in 2009 and forecasts this to reach $1.58 billion in 2015.
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Wireless carriers must become more creative and aggressive in leveraging their unique assets if they want to successfully carve out and keep a significant portion of this sector's potential revenue. Powerful technology and greater customer awareness are driving the consumer LBS market and providing even more opportunities for carriers to partner with top-tier application developers and create, launch, and promote new LBS solutions.
"In tandem with smartphone advances, carriers are making their networks and locationing capability more accessible to LBS application developers," says Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Jeanine Sterling. "Partnerships with location aggregators, open application programming interface (API) platforms, and simpler, quicker certification reviews make it easier for LBS developers to stake a claim to the market."
However, new monetization models and higher channel fragmentation encourage smartphone users, in particular, to bypass wireless carriers and download LBS solutions directly from the phone's application store. The majority of location-based applications available through smartphone storefronts are free or available for a one-time fee. In such an environment, carriers will have to strategize cleverly to justify their monthly subscription model. They will also have to find ways to appeal to a smartphone user population that is quickly growing in terms of size and demands.
Wireless carriers have to bring a strong marketing sensibility to the consumer LBS sector. Their gatekeeper role and control over products and partners have disappeared in the smartphone sector and has been weakened with feature phone users. Carriers need to decide where they can compete successfully in this sector.
"Some LBS solutions – such as the kid finder services – are just an automatic and perfect fit. Other applications and capabilities may not be as obvious. To thrive in this market, carriers have to be real marketers – monitoring customer needs, identifying product voids, working with creative partners, and publicizing the distinct benefits that carriers bring to today's mobile user," advises Sterling.
2010 North American Consumer Location-based Services (LBS) Market – The Wireless Carrier Opportunity is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: U.S. Mobile Advertising and Search Markets, North American Consumer Mobile Communications Outlook, U.S. On-Deck Premium Mobile Content Markets, and An Insight into the U.S. Mobile Video Content Services Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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2010 North American Consumer Location-based Services (LBS) Market – The Wireless Carrier Opportunity / N68D