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Mobile users will pay for LBS

27 сентября 2007

TruePosition says time is right for location-based services to take off; operators can expect to see revenue uplift. Not only are mobile phone users receptive to the idea of location-based services, but they are also willing to pay for them, according to new research published this week.

Encouragingly for mobile operators, 45% of respondents to a survey carried out by IDC for LBS specialist TruePosition said they are likely to subscribe to family monitoring-type services in the next 12 months.

"This is something they definitely wanted to pay for," Brian Varano, manager of marketing communications at TruePosition, told Total Telecom on Monday. He estimates that such a service would be priced at around US$9 per month, a portion of which would go to the network operator.

Despite a number of false starts for location-based services, TruePosition believes the time is right for them to take off as many of the stumbling blocks that hindered adoption in the past have been removed. These include mobile screen functionality, flat-rate data plans, and the resolution of performance issues, stemming from earlier use of cell-ID alone to locate users.

The survey, which covered business and consumer mobile users in the U.K., Spain and the U.S., also revealed strong market potential for local search services, although these are likely to be ad-funded, rather than subscription offers.

80% of Spanish respondents, 70% in the U.S. and 60% in the U.K. said they would consider signing up for mobile local search services, but only if they were free. The numbers fell considerably - 40% in Spain and 25% in both the U.K. and U.S. – if payment were required.

Furthermore, "they were all very keen on social networking," said Varano, provided security issues are properly addressed.

He added that the operator community is also backing social networking as a way of boosting mobile data usage. Social networking could drive "a massive increase in messaging," he said.

In the enterprise space, workforce and fleet management were highlighted as key LBS applications. 74% of respondents said they viewed increased productivity as a key benefit, while 68% cited cost-savings.

Business users cited quality of service as the most important factor in LBS, with device price and monthly fee coming in second and third respectively. Businesses in general prefer a model that allows them to pay a monthly fee per user, rather than paying per locate.

Both consumer and business users showed a deeper knowledge and understanding of location-based services than TruePosition had expected, Varano said. The company had presumed a certain amount of education would be necessary, but "the market has a good understanding of what LBS is," he said. Respondents showed they were aware of the practical implementation of location-based services, even if they did not necessarily refer to them by that name.

Also common across both categories was a desire for a high level of quality of service.

"They all wanted gold-plated performance," in terms of speed and accuracy, said Varano.

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