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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Upside for Indoor Location-based Smartphone Apps

What if mobile applications like Google Maps could provide insight about the inside of large public buildings and other big structures? Would independent software developers find new and interesting ways to tap this data in their smartphone apps? 

While there won't be an immediate surge in indoor location-enabled handsets and applications, it's now anticipated that the ecosystem necessary to drive mass adoption of indoor location applications will be in place by 2016.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the future adoption of a variety of indoor location and proximity related technologies or hybrids are being considered across a range of different application categories -- such as retail, navigation, enterprise, personal tracking and social.

Meanwhile, these apps are also expected to enhance mobile enhanced services such as advertising, ambient intelligence, augmented reality, photography, and local search.

Even at this early stage, it is already clear that indoor location will play a major part in the future of mobile device application market development.

"The market is still very nascent with a number of major handset vendors yet to decide on what technologies they will adopt," said Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research.

In particular, any decision from Google will likely have huge repercussions, depending on whether it opens up the Android platform or not.

There are also issues around indoor maps, data ownership, and interoperability across technologies, buildings, and mobile OS platforms.

By 2016, the ecosystem will have evolved sufficiently that ABI is forecasting strong adoption of indoor location-based service (LBS) applications, catalyzed by the increasing availability of in-store retail applications.

As smartphones proliferate, and personal privacy barriers are addressed, mobile device location will become increasingly used to enhance existing and new services. ABI believes that indoor or ubiquitous location information is a natural extension of this inevitable trend.