We are making history. The rate of iOS and Android device adoption has surpassed adoption rates for any other consumer technology in recent history, reports analytics firm Flurry. Android and iOS devices are being adopted at a rate 10 times faster than the rate of PC adoption during the 1980s. Smart device adoption is growing twice as fast as Internet adoption during the 1990s, and three times faster than that of recent social network adoption. Flurry estimates there were more than 640 million Android and iOS devices in use as of July 2012. The U.S., followed by China, has the most active iOS and Android devices. However, China had the fastest growth of active devices last year and its active user base will soon overtake the U.S. Other news this month includes security concerns with LBS offerings, developments in the indoor location market, voice navigation for bikes, and unusual election activities.
With cause, people are concerned about the security of location-based applications. In a poll focused on LBS security, a quarter of 1,000 Americans surveyed indicated both concerns about third-party use of personal information for marketing purposes and strangers knowing too much about personal activities. Surprisingly, about 20 percent indicated a concern for their actual personal safety. The poll was conducted by the non-profit security group, ISACA. Nearly one-third of consumers in ISACA’s survey use location-based apps more than they did a year ago.
It isn’t just LBS that carries security risks. Smartphones themselves are inherently vulnerable. “Every smartphone subscriber end-point is a potential threat to the mobile network and creates hundreds of millions of points of network vulnerability,” says Jeff Orr of ABI Research. Currently, protection is focused on hardware and end-user application security. To more ably face threats, defensive security measures will grow more sophisticated and encompass contextual information about usage, location, and user. Perversely, this is the same information sought by mobile advertisers. Today, carriers are focused on 4G roll-out and delivering the hottest handset, but they need to be just as concerned about security.
A Whiff of Hyperbole in the Indoors. The indoors location market is going to be big, but I think that ABI Research’s forecast of indoor maps and services reaching more than $2.5 billion by 2017 is overstated. I agree with their assertion that business models are changing with the most significant indoor mapping companies increasing their scope to include more revenue enhancing activities. These still focus on indoor location, but include application development, location technologies, analytics, and advertising.
Indoor Location Club. The In-Location Alliance has been formed by 22 companies, including Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung, to pursue high-accuracy indoor positioning and related services. One of their goals is to ensure a multi-vendor environment by promoting open interfaces and a standard-based approach. Members are encouraged to execute their own pilots and present their data to the Alliance. The primary solutions will be based on enhanced Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy technology and Wi-Fi standards using relevant existing or upcoming features of those technologies. Pre-commercial pilots and business model verifications will start in 2012, while 2013 is expected to bring mobile handset-based implementation, enabling the first consumer applications in the indoor mobile environment.
Enterprise GPS Doing Well Approximately 5.5 million GPS/wireless devices are used to manage fleet vehicles, trailers, construction equipment, and mobile workers, estimates C.J. Driscoll & Associates. By 2015, this market will expand to more than nine million units and annual hardware and service revenues will grow to over $3.0 billion, predicts Driscoll. Growth is expected to be strongest in the local GPS fleet tracking market, which is expanding at a rate of 15-20 percent per year.
Listen to Your Bike. Google has added turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation for bike riders in 10 Nordic and European bike loving countries. Bikers can either listen to the voice or view the route on a phone. In the U.S. and Canada, a beta version will be available. Google maps contain more than 330,000 miles of biking lines. These are color classified as either dedicated bike trails with no motor vehicles, streets with bike lanes, or other streets recommended for biking. Users can use Map Maker to add bike routes.
Election Coverage. You may have heard that a group called Crossroads GPS spent $5.3 million to run ads to defend Governor Romney’s proposed tax plan. Crossroads GPS is not a new faction of the LBS industry. Crossroads GPS (Grassroots Policy Strategies) is a conservative organization with an unlikely acronym.
Save the Date. I’ll be moderating a panel debate, “Opening up the Indoors for Location Services,” at MforMobile’s Location Business Summit 2012, being held in San Jose October 16-17. TheWhereBusiness and NFC Insight are now MforMobile.