Placr were delighted to host a visit from Navitime last week. Navitime have been visiting the UK on a fact-finding mission, looking at pedestrian navigation and travel information solutions. Navitime offer the most advanced solutions in the world in this sector with their Japanese service hosting 4 million unique users.
The Navitime service is worth studying closely by those interested in the future trajectory of location-based services. The Navitime service works, and works well… I have used it in Tokyo myself. But it is based on wall to wall 3G services (GSM has been decommissioned in Japan), most users have flat data tariffs that do not punish data usage, and the majority of phones now have GPS supported by network-based location determination systems. Navitime have also invested in building imagery, sidewalk networks and real-time transport data feeds, much of which we do not have here.
Placr strongly believe in the future of LBS and have a number of propositions under development in this area. But LBS will likely only succeed when the location proposition is built on top of a rock solid user experience. Navitime have succeeded because they make excellent applications, but also because the mobile operators have built the infrastructure and ecosystem that supports the applications. European networks are improving (3G-only networks like ’3′ are building significant coverage), but expectations on LBS revenues in Europe should be scaled to the progress of the infrastructure and devices. Innovative design can only achieve so much without infrastructure: one poor experience of location determination which produces wrong or out of date information tells the user that a service is not ready for prime time.
Placr have developed significant technology in mobile positioning and travel information that we hope will help to join the dots between LBS infrastructure, data streams and applications. More on this soon.