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Vodafone charts an open source course for location based services

by Nitesh Patel | 7月 16, 2010

Is there any benefit for Vodafone making its LBS software open source? I’m sure developers will love to get their hands on this code and use it to develop appealing location enhanced applications. But other than attracting developers to write compelling location services that can be distributed through Vodafone’s 360 application store, the move surely falls short of Vodafone’s initial intentions after gobbling up Wayfinder in December 2008 for $29 million. Up until this point, Vodafone had been the only carrier to have acquired a location based service application developer in an attempt to move into other parts of the LBS value-chain beyond providing user location and managing subscriber privacy. Vodafone decided to close down Wayfinder in March 2010, after Google and then Nokia launched free mobile navigation in December 2009 and February 2010 respectively, eroding Vodafone’s prospects of charging a premium for Vodafone Navigator, its turn-by-turn location application. Prior to this open source announcement, it seems likely that Vodafone would have attempted to sell the unit. However, given the shift to a free business model for navigation, I strongly suspect that interest would have been very low. Although maps will continue to work on Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 and M1 devices, its branded search application, Vodafone Locate, will be discontinued. Vodafone Locate is no longer available in the iTunes App Store or the 360 Apps Shop, nor has it been embedded in devices since Vodafone announced the intended closure of Wayfinder. Vodafone Navigation is also being phased out, with a final decision on when and how to be made. Vodafone Navigation is no longer available in the 360 Apps Shop, nor has it been embedded on any devices since Vodafone announced the intended closure of Wayfinder. Vodafone will now offer navigation through a partner, a more profitable approach to running their own navigation service, as highlighted in our report ‘Nokia & Google Shake Up $3.8 B Handset Navigation Market.’ This withdrawal by Vodaofne underlines the broader challenge that operators face in competing on services with internet giants like Google, whose business model is based on advertising and handset vendors, like Nokia, Apple and RIM that recognise the importance of delivering well integrated services in order to drive further growth in handset market share. Nitesh Patel
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