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Global Upside for Location Based Services


eMarketer reports that consumers are increasingly using GPS-enabled mobile devices to find local businesses, one another and even their family pets. Apparently, this is all part of the growing upside market opportunity.

Gartner is predicting huge gains for mobile location-based services (LBS) in 2009. The market research firm estimates that total LBS subscribers will more than double worldwide this year -- to 95.7 million.

"The LBS industry has matured rapidly in recent months through a mixture of consolidation, improved price/performance of the enabling technologies and compelling location applications," said Annette Zimmermann, analyst at Gartner.

Worldwide revenues from consumer location-based services were under $1 billion in 2008, but Gartner projects they will top $2.2 billion this year. North America's share will be the largest, at $713.7 million.

Subscriber growth will hinge on free. The competitive landscape will change and most mobile carriers need to alter their approach toward offering LBS and dealing with developers.

Currently, about 10 to 15 percent of users in North America and Western Europe take advantage of free services. The researcher expects that share to climb to between 40 and 50 percent by 2013.

The rise of mobile applications and availability of a wider variety of location-based services will continue to fuel popularity -- and new mobile marketing opportunities. Locally tailored digital coupons will go hand in hand with local search.

Navigation applications are still popular in Europe and North America.

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