It’s July, which means big news is slow to come by — and it is the opportunity to examine what will drive the location-based services market for the rest of 2011…and beyond. So far, consolidation is continuing, with Nokia combining digital mapping giant Navteq into a single LBS unit. In addition, strong entries into the machine-to-machine market include Iridium, while AT&T seeks to increase market share. Privacy issues were a big topic in the first part of the 2011, but will they hamper market growth the rest of the year?
Nokia to Consolidate Navteq into Location-Based Services Unit
In a move that looks like a strategy overhaul, Nokia plans to combine its Chicago-based Navteq digital mapping unit with its location-based services business. The new location and commerce division will be led by Michael Halbherr, who told LBS Insider in April that he was involved in Nokia’s $8.1 billion decision to acquire Navteq in 2007.
Nokia had touted that it had a “hands-off” approach with Navteq, unlike competitor TomTom, which incorporated its Tele Atlas mapping unit so much that the TA brand is no longer visible.
Halbherr told LBS Insider he predicted the demise of the portable navigation system early on, a market that competitor TomTom has been finding difficult recently. Navteq maps power Nokia’s Ovi Maps service for smartphones. Yahoo and Microsoft also incorporate Navteq digital mapping into their offerings.
Privacy Legislation Looks For Consumer Consent
New legislation aims to preclude such companies as Apple and Google from using customer’s location data without their consent. Senators Al Franken, D-Minn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., co-sponsored the bill, called the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011.
Franken honchoed a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law hearing that grilled Google and Apple executives in May. The uproar about consumer privacy arose in April at a California LBS application developers’ conference when companies indicated that customer’s privacy data was collected and shared.
How this legislation, if passed, will affect the industry is not known. But it has raised eyebrows in several market sectors. Thilo Koslowski, Gartner vice president, told attendees at an automotive telematics conference last month that privacy is a big concern to auto makers who want to incorporate LBS-type of connectivity into their new vehicles. Koslowski went further when he said that not only do consumers not want social media in their vehicles, the privacy factor is not going away — and the industry needs to take notice of that.
Iridium Forging Into M2M Markets
Saying the machine-to-machine market constitutes its fastest growing segment, McLean, Va.-based Iridium Communications has partnered with several industry companies to grow beyond its government markets.
“M2M in 2010 exploded for us in 2010, a real tipping point. In short, we reduced the size of the 9602 [short burst data] module to the size of matchbook, so the much lower price point allowed us to win a bunch of new programs,” said Patrick Shay, Iridium vice president and general manager for data services.
Shay, an industry veteran who worked at Motorola, Rand McNally and Hughes Telematics, said that Iridium plans constellation enhancements in 2015. “It’s a one-for-one [satellite] replacement with backward compatibility and no service disruption,” he said.
Such big M2M names as Kore Telematics, Digi International, and SkyBitz have become Iridium partners. Kore integrates satellite connectivity into its Prismpro unit.
One Iridium partner, DeLorme, said it is rolling out a personal communicator this fall with two-way satellite messaging, SOS capabilities, remote tracking and Android smartphone interface so messages can be posted to Twitter or Facebook. The unit will go for $249.95 and have subscription fees starting at $9.95 a month.
Editor’s Note: The August issue of GPS World will carry an article about Iridium certifying Cubic Global Tracking Solutions’ Global Sentinel System.
AT&T Location Information Services Focusing on Enterprise Market
AT&T Location Information Services is greatly expanding its location marketing, particularly in M2M, with its partners Loc-Aid Technologies and TechnoCom Corp. The company announced the partnerships at its developer summit in January.
The company is focusing on the enterprise market because consumer location-based services have been a tough go for AT&T. The enterprise/M2M market has been a good one for AT&T and its network-based location systems, said John Booth, AT&T LIS senior product manager.
The interoperability with the other carriers helps to grow the market, Booth said. “Historically, a customer had to work with one carrier and that limited them,” he said.
Booth says there are benefits in using a network-based location solution because it prevents users from needing to download applications or use a specific platform in order to be located. The services are both device and network agnostic, he said.
Loc-Aid is working with AT&T on its Location-as-a Service offering where businesses can access a customer’s location based on requirements or events. TechnoCom and AT&T are creating location and messaging products for the enterprise market.
AT&T is working with Road America, a roadside assistance service provider, for a network-based application for location capability in the event of an accident or break down. The service, called LocateMe, is a cross-carrier offering that links to Road America’s 24-hour response centers.
AT&T is working on integrating other location technology into its network service offerings, Booth said. “We are working on a number of applications besides assisted GPS [and cell ID] to include Wi-Fi and RFID. We want something that works in whatever the environment — airports or railroads,” he said.
In addition to call center and transportation logistics, which is AT&T’s strong areas, emerging markets include fraud prevention and even truancy monitoring. “School districts get millions of dollars in funding based on student attendance. It’s a natural location market,” Booth said.
In addition to the truancy monitoring market, regular parolees and bail bond holders constitute a huge potential market. AT&T estimates there are 5 million parolees nationwide and 7 million bail bond holders.
Carriers Still Focal Point for LBS Implementation
For years there have been arguments about who is driving the mobile information market for LBS: Is it the carriers? Auto manufacturers? New media companies such as Google? Despite all of the talk, companies still are trying to align themselves to offer the carriers’ capabilities to implement LBS.
The recent Alcatel-Lucent partnership with Polaris Wireless and Thales Alenia Space is an example of companies tailoring E911 type of location capability and marketing for carriers. The three companies have partnered to pursue business with Tier 1 wireless operators in the United States and other regions, said Bhavin Shah, Polaris Wireless vice president of marketing and business development.
“Alcatel-Lucent and Thales Alenia Space have a working relationship based on the former’s prior part-ownership of the latter. Alcatel-Lucent and Polaris Wireless have pursued a closer relationship based on shared interests in promoting their respective location solutions to wireless operators,” he said. “Recent developments and announcement of the partnership were triggered by impending Tier 1 LTE decisions,
and the fact that the partnership enables a quicker time to market than ALU building a location solution on its own, and Polaris Wireless and Thales Alenia Space approaching Tier 1 operators directly without a larger infrastructure partner.”
Alcatel-Lucent is the platform provider and direct interface with the customer (network operator). ALU provides all hardware, middleware, and conducts sales, support, operations, and billing. Polaris Wireless provides network-based location technology and network interfaces, including Polaris Wireless Location Signatures (Polaris WLSTM) and other location technology, such as Enhanced Cell-ID. Thales Alenia Space, with its expertise in satellite positioning, provides handset-based (GPS) location technology.