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Networks in Motion Interview - Mobilising LBS

Networks In Motion Doug AntoneNetworks In Motion's partnership with FusionOne, a provider of mobile phone content portability services, was announced today at CITA Wirless 2009, Las Vegas. As a result, NIMís NAVBuilder LBS Platform and AtlasBookô Navigator, will be integrated with FusionOneís Network Address Book solution.

Currently, Navigator users need to find or enter an address to map a new location. With this new integration between the two platforms, users can now launch the address book and select their destination without leaving the Navigator. Similarly, consumers who are using FusionOneís Network Address Book to manage and share their contacts are now able to directly map an address or get directions from within the address book application.

To coincide with the CTIA Wireless event, we continue our series of in depth interviews with the movers and shakers of the mobile world. We speak to Doug Antone, CEO of Networks in Motion (NIM). NIM has over one million paid users of its location based services (LBS) products.

Its customers include Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Ericsson, Sprint and YellowPages.com. NIMís NAVBuilder platform is the most widely used mobile phone navigation service in North America.

Q: Doug, can you give me a bit of background about NIM please?
A: Networks In Motion is an award-winning wireless navigation and location-based services company with offices in the U.S., Sweden, Spain and China. NIM delivers products to virtually every major wireless carrier, enabling rapid deployment of mapping, directional and other location-based services that utilize our patent-pending technologies. Our leading-edge applications are engineered to simplify traveling. With our products, a user will always know his or her exact GPS location and current surroundings. goviko

Q: Are you announcing anything else at CTIA?
A: NIM are announcing Gokivo Navigator, our first direct-to-consumer LBS application based upon our AtlasBook Reference platform. It will be available to purchase through RIMís BlackBerry App World.

Q: With location based applications appearing for free or at low prices in app stores, how do you think this will this affect your company and the LBS market as a whole?
A: In terms of the market, I think it will force companies to look at other possible avenues through which they can expand their reach and to get their products into the hands of their customers. As for NIM, we see Gokivo Navigatorís inclusion in RIMís app store as an addition and not a replacement to our current and highly successful carrier channel.

Q: What is NIM's business model?
A: NIM is a white-label company. We produce and provide LBS applications for our carrier partners as well as providing all the necessary technical support. However, the applications are marketed and advertised as part of our carrier partnerís data packages, and on the customerís bill from the carrier.

Q: What differentiates NIM from its competition?
A: The main difference between NIM and our PND competitors is that we provide frequent and automatic updates of maps and points of interest, which eliminate the need to purchase software upgrades. By being a cell phone application, we also eliminate a userís need to purchase another device, since most adults have mobile phones today.

Unlike in-dash navigation systems, we are mobile Ė the software is in a mobile phone, allowing users to take it with them wherever their mobile phone can go.

As for what differentiates us from other mobile phone LBS apps, NIM operate as white-label company with carrier-branded applications based on our AtlasBook Navigator platform, allowing us to have the full support from the marketing and advertising department of our carrier partners.

Q: How do you see the future of advertising developing alongside LBS?
A: Advertising can benefit from location-based services because LBS applications have specific category searches, and the phone knows where the user is by his or her GPS location. When using an LBS applicationís local search directory, a customer could receive an ad thatís targeted to a specific item near his or her location matching the initial search parameters instead of just random spam, banners and pop-ups. The developers and advertisers can all benefit from mobile advertising if the model is "cost per click" or "cost per call" and participate in a form of revenue sharing. Advantages to the consumer can include discounts, directions to locations and the reduction or elimination of LBS fees in the future thanks to ad revenues.

Q: How do you see location based services developing further?
A: Advertising and social networking are two areas that can see significant growth in the next few years. With advertising, there is a great opportunity for higher CPMs for ads that are geared towards the userís location instead of random spam, banners and pop-ups. Also, social networking has taken interest in LBS. Case in point, the recently announced Yahoo! application for Facebook, Friends on Fire, that lets friends share their locations with one another. On NIM products, social networking features are built-in, allowing a user to send his or her location via place-messaging texts. Place-messages sends the information of where the user is and directions to where he or she is going, as well as an ETA, to contacts, regardless of carriers.

Q: Does NIM have any plans to enter social LBS similar to Loopt?
A: Currently, NIM doesnít have any plans to enter the social LBS market similar to Loopt. However, we are constantly investigating the market and adding features to our products that our customers request. Our NAVBuilder platform allows social networking applications to "call" for navigation, by using the App-2-App open APIs. An example of this integration is the use by 411 Search to send place messages to our Navigation client.

Q: Do you believe that LBS will disrupt as many markets as the World Wide Web did in the late 90s?
A: There is a great potential to do so. Mobile is different than the internet though, because it does not have the broad standards; mobile universe is fractured with 7 viable operating systems. There is no WinTel duopoly. As the handsets become more powerful, they allow the producers of LBS applications to include more tools and features in the applications to assist and aid users in their mobile lifestyle. With the advent of greater precision in traffic feeds and assisted GPS in Europe and Asia, other regions of the world will eventually catch up to the U.S.

Q: How many years do you think it will be before ALL new mobile devices will carry GPS and LBS technology?
A: It is reasonable that advances in GPS chipset development will allow for an application of GPS/LBS in virtually every form of a mobile device within the next few years. The use of GPS in many other consumer areas as well as business and industrial is expected to grow substantially. A good example is a digital camera with automatic geo-tagging.

Q: Ultimately, where do you see the industry in 5 years?
A: The industry will continue to expand into other regions of the world such as Europe and Asia with greater precision in traffic feeds and accuracy. As more powerful platforms arrive and other methods of positioning become available, LBS will become as common as voice-mail and cameras in handsets.

Networks in Motion

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