Location based services are mobile services that utilize the position of a person to provide information or entertainment services using their geographical position. Some examples include emergency services, parcel tracking, friend search, fleet management, weather services or games that are location based like Casino. The major advantage with location based services is that the user does not have to give position information. GPS tracking, GSM localization or triangulation methods make these services quite robust.
Despite being launched early, Location based services have languished in the back seat for a pretty long time, the reason of which may be attributed to the lack of GPS support structure and technical challenges. However, availability of upgraded and sophisticated mobile handsets as well as supportive legislation is slowly but surely dismantling these roadblocks. With 3G enabled devices and hi-ended mobile phones flooding the markets, which have GPS chips incorporated in them - location based services are frolicking in all the attention that it rightfully deserves. It even enables the wireless carriers to personalise their services which, in turn, enables them to increase their revenues. There are, however, concerns regarding the abuse of an individual's location information by advertisers which cannot be overlooked.
In India, operators like Bharti, Hutch, BSNL etc have launched their Location based services of different kinds. The bouquet of services offered are competitive and innovative, which is expected to keep the consumer interests alive. But, the LBS has not taken off as well as expected in the country. There are various reasons for the same. The infrastructure is volatile and there is a lack of reliable GIS data. The location names do not follow any particular convention which makes it difficult to be used in a standard manner. This creates a huge roadblock for the success of LBS. The cost and maintenance of the device is also heavy. The fact that GPS is a huge battery drainer does nothing to help its weaning interest in customers. Since GPS enabled mobile handsets are yet to find broad acceptance with Indian consumers, LBS is still to prove its effectiveness.
In India, geo-tagging remains a huge hurdle and deploying this idea will continue to remain a massive undertaking especially when door-to-door geo-tagging is being mulled upon. However, a large number of subscribers continue to use a plethora of applications enabled by these services.
There are multiple opinions on whether geo-tracking is really legitimate. The security and privacy concern will always remain a hurdle for LBS to be accepted with open arms. Opting-in is a workable idea but a cumbersome process even though it might mean better security and usage. Privacy - enhancing techniques are also gaining momentum. Inspite of all these hurdles, LBS is being seen as 'hot-cake' of the decade. Understandably, the success of LBS depends on having proper legislations in place. It remains to be seen if joining in the location game is worth the risks!
About the author: Nisha Meledath is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at