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Evolving Applications for Location Based Services

The media tablet and digital camera markets are forecast to be the next high growth driver for location based services (LBS) and global positioning system (GPS) integrated circuits (ICs) -- despite the relatively slow growth to date.

The latest market study by ABI Research resulted in an updated forecast for the evolving application of LBS and how it will affect the adoption of location-related technologies.

So far, the tablet market has been somewhat led by Apple and its GPS/Modem strategy. GPS shipments are forecast to reach 37 million in 2012, yet that is still much less than had been previously anticipated.

There has been mixed progress of late, with the launch of the Google Nexus 7 and the Apple iPad mini. Wi-Fi location technology is a standard feature across all media tablets. But while it is complementary, it does sometimes act as a barrier to GPS integration.

"When we look at the adoption of applications on tablets, it is forecast to largely mirror that of smartphones, with a focus on local search, social, enterprise, navigation, and ambient intelligence," said Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Google Android will lead the way, as ubiquitous location becomes a necessary component of new mobile device designs. Moreover, the digital camera market has huge potential, with geo-tagging a clear driver of new applications.

With over 30 GPS-enabled cameras on the market, shipments are expected to break 10 million in 2013, and a second wave of new applications emerging around tracking, Maps/POI, and dead-reckoning.

As an industry, there needs to be a complete overhaul of how digital cameras are designed -- to find a way to fully leverage the photography usage already occurring on smartphones.

ABI Research has forecast that this product evolution will open the market to GPS, alternative location, and LBS in future. The launch of the Sony Vita was expected to ignite the location-based gaming (LBG) industry, featuring Wi-Fi location as standard, and an optional GPS/modem module.

However, irrespective of limited device sales, location-based gaming and community applications still have fundamental barriers concerning critical mass and where and how the device is used.

As a result, LBG is expected to initially flourish on smartphones, with GPS forecast to remain subdued on gaming devices. These findings are part of the ABI Research’s Location Based Services -- which includes research reports, market data, and related insights.

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