Location-based social networking is, predictably enough, being tipped for great things. But this time a boom application might actually see network operators and handset vendors get a meaningful slice of the action, say researchers ABI in a recent report.
The company predicts mobile social networking will generate global revenues of US$3.3 billion by 2013, with the emergence of providers such as GyPSii, Pelago and Loopt, whose services allow users to share real-life experiences via geo-tagged user-generated multimedia content, exchange recommendations about places, identify nearby friends and set up ad hoc face to face meetings.
According to ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte, “while location-based advertising integrated with sophisticated algorithms holds a lot of promise, the current reality rather points to licensing and revenue-sharing models as the way forward for social networking start-ups to grow their customer base and reach profitability.
Recent evidence: the agreements betweenGyPSii and both Garmin and Samsung. Similarly, Loopt has established partnerships with all major US cellular carriers.”
New positioning technologies such as Skyhook Wireless’s hybrid solution combining GPS, Wi-Fi- and Cell-ID for improved indoor coverage have been licensed to several social networking vendors. Many social sites are powered by open location-based platforms such asuLocate’s Where.
In 2007, ABI says North America generated 81% of the world's location-based services (LBS) revenue due to the dominance of CDMA which supported GPS early on. That balance will shift by 2013 as the rest of the world joins up to play. Western and Eastern Europe's share will jump from 5% to 31%, while the Asia-Pacific region will see a rise from 11% to 27%.
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