Monday, March 21, 2011
Mobile location-based services LBS have gained tremendous popularity among smart phone users in Singapore lately.

LBS has become a rational utility that quickens the process to knowing and finding relevant points of interest, as demanded by Singaporeans.

Our business partners, prospects, friends from the press, our users and other stakeholders, are all very excited at the promise that is LBS.

Often times, this excitement is accompanied by a lack of knowledge of the what's and how's of LBS on mobile.

So exciting!
In every technological era, we are confronted with the following statements, or statements similar in nature to:

"Mobile is the future. LBS is the future. Mobile LBS is the future!!!"

"More people are adopting mobile phones. High mobile penetration!"

"More people are using LBS and integrating it into their daily lives!"

Keeping our excitement in check, we should first question each statement with 2 magical words: SO WHAT?

Do these statements, among many, combine to justify entering the LBS industry and jumping on the bandwagon of app development, navigational services, creating your own database, POI management, etc.?

We raise 2 considerations to be taken into account when evaluating the LBS industry in Singapore, and also provide the relevant statistics. They are the platforms on which LBS is provided, and the service providers (telco) to whom users are subscribed.

Oh my OS!
As you know, ShowNearby is currently available on 3 platforms - Android, BlackBerry and iPhone (also iPod). We are also looking to other platforms to bring the wonders of LBS to users of other operating systems (OS).

From our findings, we discover that the majority of mobile LBS users are iPhone users. This is not much of a surprise, given the iOS penetration in Singapore is the highest in the world, at 480,000 devices - iPhone and iPod included. (pssst... ShowNearby is on over 300,000 iPhones and iPods!)

When the idea of mobile LBS application development is floated around, does one plan to develop on one platform alone? The above pie chart indicates the popularity of mobile location-based services on iPhone.

Even if there are plans to develop an app that would be available on multiple platforms, one has to consider the factors of user experience and user interface, and balance those considerations with that of standardisation of the application.

Providing service
On a different note, we have found out the daily proportion of Singaporean smartphone users who subscribe to each of the three major service providers.

The figures shown are expressions of each telco with respect to the others, compiled from Google Analytics. Each telco has its own subsidiaries and derivatives and also collated for the below-mentioned charts - Singtel comprises Singtel Mobile, Singnet Pte Ltd, and Magix Broadband Network. M1 comprises MobileOne Ltd, M1 Ltd, and M1 Connect Pte Ltd. Starhub comprises Starhub-HSDPA, Starhub Cable Vision Ltd, Starhub Pte Ltd, Starhub Cable Vision Ltd Singapore Broadband Access Provider, Starhub Internet Pte Ltd, Starhub HSDPA sg, Starhub HSPA, and Starhub HSDPA.

By the way, the colours of the pie chart are purely coincidental and are not meant to reflect or represent the corporate colours of the respective service providers. =)

Among the 3 service providers, almost half of mobile LBS users here are subscribed to Singtel, while 31% and 22% are with Starhub and M1 respectively.

Singtel saw a drop of 6 percentage points in mobile LBS usage from December 2010 to February 2011, while M1 and Starhub gained 3 percentage points each. 

Considering the overall respective 3G mobile market share, the above pie shows a very competitive share of the LBS market by each of the service providers.

Casting a bigger net
Advertisers and marketers should always explore the limitations in choosing to advertise on location-based service applications that are only available on one platform.

Moreover, when advertisers and marketers choose to have exclusive partnerships with a service provider to do location-based advertising, they have to consider the share of the market they are capturing.

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