GPS semiconductor vendors are increasingly focusing on GSM handsets as their next target market for GPS chipsets. While until now CDMA handsets and navigation devices have been the main GPS product categories, GSM mobile phones are expected to increasingly feature GPS-chipsets as handset-based navigation and a wide range of location-based services such as local search and social networking become popular. GPS already has become a standard feature on smartphones, with recently launched products from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Palm and Samsung and the iconic iPhone, expected to become important drivers for LBS uptake due to their large screens and text input facilities.
“Despite its appeal, the handset form factor poses a series of new challenges to GPS chipset vendors,” said ABI Research director Dominique Bonte. "While minimal power consumption, price and small footprint are even more important in handsets than in PNDs, the bigger issue is related to indoor coverage, as handset-based LBS services will be frequently used in urban canyons and indoor environments such as shopping malls where GPS reception is impaired.”
The very important trend of “combo” chipsets – integrating different radio technologies such as FM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS on a single chip – promises to provide a solution to power, footprint and price challenges, while also allowing integration of alternative positioning technologies such as Wi-Fi to provide better indoor coverage and a seamless positioning experience to the end user. This is evidenced by the recent announcement of Broadcom’s partnership with Skyhook Wireless. The expected availability of combo chipsets in 2009 from major GPS chipset vendors such as Broadcom, Atheros, NXP and Texas Instruments will play an important role in accelerating the adoption of GPS in mass market handsets, ultimately making it a standard handset feature.
ABI Research’s recent study “GPS Semiconductors” offers vital insight into ongoing innovation in GPS IC design and performance and provides crucial data for GPS IC average selling prices, shipments and revenues to 2013. It forms part of two ABI Research Services: Location Aware Services and Wireless Semiconductors.