Consumer turn-off: Automatic location information

As location based information begins to appear in more applications and services, consumers are finding them increasingly intrusive and either ignoring the messages or turning off the service.

According to researchers at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), consumers starting to use automated location information will shut them down unless they can easily control and edit the information flow. The study claims many users ignore or switch off friends' or their own location information flow if automation makes it too difficult to manage the data being displayed on the handset.

Also, early adopters of these services now avoid displaying their own location to friends because they don't want to reveal every detail of their lives--not helped by the automated location providing false information. For instance, the system may indicate the user is in a pub even though he is at a gym in the same building with a pub.

Regardless of these consumer concerns, Gartner maintains the number of subscribers using location based services (LBS) globally will double this year, even as mobile device sales decline by four per cent. The analyst group said the number of LBS subscribers is forecast to reach nearly 96 million by the end of the year, up from 41 million in 2008. Revenues associated with LBS will also more than double this year, reaching US$2.2 billion, up from US$998 million last year.

Gartner also predicted huge growth in the number of users who opt to accept advertising in return for free LBS; today, about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of LBS users take advantage of free services, but that number should grow to 40 per cent to 50 per cent in 2013.

For more on this story:
Cellular News and Computerworld

Related stories:
Vodafone offers US$30m for LBS developer
Kick starting the LBS market
Location developers show scant interest in webOS, Symbian

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