Location-Based Service Set to Explode

Cellphones with GPS chips are enabling navigation and tracking services.

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After years of hype, services that depend on your location are finally taking off. The first big success is the navigation service that cellphone companies offer, mostly using the GPS chips that ship inside most handsets these days.

The next big hit will be "friend finder" services, predict analysts at ABI Research. That's where my cellphone tells friends and family where I am, and I get to see where they are. A related category is family tracking, which aims specifically at parents wanting to know the whereabouts of kids.

Several carriers, including Sprint and Verizon Wireless, already offer some of the tracking services, as well as personal navigation. They and other providers also offer navigation for companies, including workforce tracking and fleet management.

Americans spent about $515 million last year on location-based services. That could mushroom to $13.3 billion by 2013, ABI says. First, though, the services need to work universally across carriers. That's likely to come soon, much as it did for text messaging.

Bottom line: It's going to get a lot harder to get lost, even if you want to.


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