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Keeping track of GPS' rosy future

Posted: 02 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPS? handset? wireless communications?

Initiatives from wireless operators and a U.S. government mandate are set to more than quadruple the global shipments of mobile handsets equipped with GPS capability from 2006 to 2011.

iSuppli anticipates global shipments of GPS-equipped mobile handsets will quadruple from 2006 to 2011. (Click to view full image)

According to iSuppli Corp., shipments of GPS-equipped mobile handsets will increase to 444 million units by 2011, rising from 109.6 million units in 2006. By 2011, 29.6 percent of all mobile phones shipped will have GPS capability, up from 11.1 percent in 2006.

"Besides cameras, multimedia capabilities and connectivity solutions, mobile handset OEMs are increasingly investigating the integration of GPS functionality in mobile devices as a value-added product differentiator," said Tina Teng, analyst for wireless communications at iSuppli. "Wireless carriers are looking at introducing various new GPS-based, revenue-generating services to increase average revenue per user."

Such location-based services will boost ARPU. These include a broad range of value-added services that incorporate user location pinpointed by satellites or other tools with location databases. The most common services are user location, turn-by-turn navigation, location search, tracking, information services and social networking.

As for the U.S. government Emergency 911 (E911) mandate, the FCC issued a report in 1996 that required all operators to precisely locate the position of wireless callers making 911 calls. Handset makers complied with the phased-in ruling by using triangulation rather than full GPS services to keep hardware costs low. But by 2000, Qualcomm Inc. began to integrate GPS silicon into its digital baseband semiconductors. Thus, carriers in the United States and South Korea using Qualcomm?s technology were among the first to roll out handsets with GPS service. In September, a Nokia smart phone with GPS capability was the top model purchased on the Website of European carrier O2, said iSuppli.

- Rick Merritt contributed to this report.

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