Worldwide shipments of global positioning system (GPS) enabled mobile phones will reach 550 million units in 2012, up from an expected 240 million units in 2008, according to predictions from ABI Research, a technology market research firm.
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ABI also expects the revenue generated by shipments of mobile phones with GPS to total $50 billion dollars next year and then double to $100 billion by the end 2012.
Though most existing GPS smartphones use CDMA technology, manufacturers are starting to build more 3G/WCDMA devices with GPS support, ABI says. CIO and IT managers, especially those with mobile workforces, stand to benefit from an increase in GPS-enabled smartphones because such devices can help keep tabs on remote workers and employees on the go. For instance, TeleNav Track is a mobile phone-based GPS tracking service with built-in audible and visual, turn-by-turn driving directions, electronic time-sheet reporting, bar-code scanning, jobs alert and change capability, and electronic form transfer and progress reporting functionality.
Another recent report from research company In-Stat predicts that the global market for smartphones will grow more than 30 percent each year through 2012, and it's likely that many these devices will include GPS support because, as ABI notes, the price of building such support into chipsets is steadily dropping. The common issues associated with GPS, including accuracy problems, time to first fix—or how long it takes to initially locate a user—and poor indoor reception are also lessening due to new technologies employed by chipset manufacturers and handset makers. Mobile operators and applications developers are capitalizing on the trend as well by offering more complex and attractive location based services (LBS), according to ABI.
Such mobile heavies as Nokia, Research In Motion (RIM), Motorola and Samsung already offer GPS-enabled mobile phones, and ABI says smaller Asian original device manufacturers (ODMs) are also starting to introduce GPS-enabled devices.
In related news, Google on Wednesday introduced an LBS called Maps With My Location that uses cellular towers to locate users in place of GPS.