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Demand Grows for Mobile Location-Based Services

Mobile network operators and internet service providers have a significant new upside opportunity. The global market for mobile Location-Based Services (LBS) will demonstrate solid growth in the next few years, according to the latest market study by Berg Insight.

Berg believes that LBS related revenues will to increase from €10.3 billion in 2014 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5 percent to reach €34.8 billion in 2020.

"The increase in usage of LBS has resulted in significant revenue growth, especially for leading players such as Google, Facebook, Baidu, Tencent, Twitter and Yahoo," said André Malm, senior analyst, Berg Insight.

Together, these companies accounted for an estimated 60 percent of the total global LBS revenues in 2014. The market development outlook includes the established leaders continuing to gain momentum.

The social networking and entertainment category -- comprising services like mobile social media, messaging apps and games -- is now the largest LBS segment in terms of the number of users and the second largest is terms of revenues.

Revenue growth in the category comes from a larger active user base and the fact that more industry leading players have started to monetize their mobile services, primarily through advertising and in-app purchases.

The local search and information service category, which includes mobile search services, directories, local discovery, shopping and coupon services, is now the second largest LBS category in terms of unique users, but the largest in terms of revenues.

Mapping, navigation and transportation is the third largest segment, both in terms of revenues and when ranked by the number of active users. Although the number of active users of mapping and navigation services is still growing, revenues are increasing slowly as competition from free and low cost services has intensified.

Since over-the-top (OTT) players now dominate the LBS ecosystem for consumer oriented apps and services, mobile network operators are instead looking for new opportunities to monetise location data through various forms of enterprise and B2B related services.

Location data is now used to enhance a broad range of services such as fraud management, secure authentication and location-based advertising. Some network operators have also launched analytics services for customers that use the insights for applications such as site selection and footfall monitoring in the retail industry, outdoor media planning for advertisers, as well as for urban planning and traffic monitoring.

"Mobile network operators, however, often face uncertainty about subscriber reaction to privacy issues and mass location data collection, which still limits the willingness to launch analytics services on a broad scale," concluded Mr Malm.

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