• February 1, 2012
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Location-Based Services Find Their Place in Mobile Apps

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Fifty-four percent of developers working on applications for mobile devices are including location-based and mapping services in those apps, according to a survey of more than 400 mobile developers by Evans Data, an IT industry market research firm.

The research found that the primary target for most of these mobile apps is the consumer market. Thirty-six percent of developers characterized their apps as mobile browsers, Web pages, or Web content, and 25 percent identified their apps as consumer e-commerce portals. There were about 10 other types of apps, but none of them had more than single-digit percentages.

Almost 60 percent of survey respondents who reported using location-based services were commercial developers selling apps outside of their companies.

According to the research, the location-based services most in demand continue to be local search, feedback, and map display. These include apps and interfaces that allow users to identify and locate nearby businesses and dynamically report back on and update conditions (usually on a map) that might be in error or have changed.

"Naturally, location-based services are in demand, and search and mapping are understandably the top capability developers incorporate," says Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data. "But we were surprised to see a lot of weakness in both geo-fencing and advertising, areas where there has been a lot of media interest but little from developers."

There's also a move to create apps that can be used across multiple mobile platforms and the Web. "There's still some interest among developers to deploy exclusively to a single native device platform, but the trend is to support multiple platforms, either through porting tools and frameworks or Web-based apps," Garvin says.

Other research from Evans Data found that Google's Android Market is the most used app store among commercial developers. Forty-seven percent of commercial developers have some experience with the Android Market, compared to 43 percent who have used Apple's App Store, though the BlackBerry App World continues to be a viable outlet for developers, especially for those creating enterprise apps.

Games are the most likely type of apps to wind up in app stores, with 27 percent of developers placing them in a store, followed by business apps at 21 percent and productivity apps at 20 percent.

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