Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Personal Locator Services to Reach 20M Consumers by 2011

Personal locator services based on the GPS-enabled mobile phone will grow from their current low user-base of 500,000 in North America to a total of more than 20 million subscribers in 2011, according to a new study from ABI Research.

Such location-based services, recently launched as "family-finder" options by Sprint Nextel, Verizon Wireless, and Disney Mobile, have now been joined by a new offering from youth-oriented mobile operator Helio. Badged as the "Buddy Beacon," the service allows users of Helio's Samsung Drift handsets to build a "buddy list" and broadcast their locations to each other for display on GPS-linked maps.

"Helio's Buddy Beacon is going to be very popular," says ABI Research senior analyst Ken Hyers. "It's innovative. This is the first service of its kind in North America.

"First launched in South Korea and Japan, personal locator services could reach 34 million Asia-Pacific subscribers by 2011.

ABI Research's "Location-Based Services" report examines the market opportunities for LBS from a handset-based perspective, focusing on location technologies, operator deployment strategies, and GPS-enabled handset evolution.

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