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2012, the mobile phone as an urban compass

2012, the mobile phone as an urban compass

“Where we are? Where do we go?” These are not existential questions, but geolocation questions: users may have a widespread fear of getting lost, given that the market for satellite navigators is thriving. But the possibility of integrating mobile phones with navigation tools could change the landscape, so much so that it is estimated that, within five years, beyond 40 million users in the world they will have a mobile phone equipped with applications for urban navigation.

To launch into this forecast is In-Stat, which bases its dissemination forecasts on research that focuses precisely on the flourishing of localization tools adapted and used for the urban environment, with its characteristics of orientation but also and above all of services and businesses that can be presented, recommended, promoted on browsers.

“Unlike MP3 players and digital cameras – says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst – navigation applications for mobile phones will be the only low-cost alternative in a market with growing popularity”. The American company is convinced that mobile telephone operators have already smelled the business and will soon be busy with targeted offers, which could radically change the market scenario and the very way of using the city.

At the moment, for mobile devices equipped with Windows Mobile, and not exactly low-cost, there is the Google Maps solution which is an alternative to the various software to be installed on smartphones. But it is not certain that a non-windows version will not be launched in the near future – perhaps for smartphones with Java support, or for Symbian, or for mobile Linux distributions.

Ultimately, within five years – or a little more – gas station attendants, newsagents and people sitting on bus stop benches may no longer have to give directions to passing truck drivers.

Dario Bonacina