Location based services Japan LBS – FAQ

Location based services Japan FAQ:

The first time a commercial mobile phone with GPS was sold in the world was by KDDI in December 2001, and the first location based services for mobile phone was Docomo’s i-Area, which was brought to the market in Japan in summer 2001. While Google earth, Google maps, and Apple maps have dominant global market positions, Japan still leads in many navigation and other location based services – as you can read in our report on Japan’s location based services.

Location based services Japan FAQ: What are Location Based Services (LBS) for mobile phones?

Mobile phone operators connect mobile phones to base stations (cell phone towers) via radio, therefore they always know the approximate location to within a few hundred meters of all subscriber phones which are switched on and within areas covered by the radio service. Some mobile phones are equipped with GPS (Satellite based Global Positioning System) – these mobile phones can determine their own location to much greater accuracy if they can connect to the satellite service. Location Based Services (LBS) are those services where the subscriber’s geographic location is an integral, or even the determining part of the service.

Read more details and analysis in our Report on Japan’s Location based mobile services

Location based services Japan FAQ: What are typical Location Based Services (LBS)?

Important Location Based Services are personal navigation (using the mobile phone as a guide to get from A to B), fleet management, finding local information quickly (e.g. where is the nearest hotel? where is the nearest dentist? where is the closed railways station? how do I get home most quickly now?).

Sending discount coupons from nearby restaurants, or shops to mobile phones is often mentioned as a typical LBS application. However, the potential economic importance of sending discount coupons to mobile phones in the neighborhood is not known. In addition, there are privacy issues – sending coupons to mobile phones requires prior agreement by the subscribers, and it is highly unlikely that mobile phone subscribers will agree to be bombarded with a stream of irrelevant discount coupons, unless these are targeted in much more sophisticated ways than geographic location alone.

Location based services Japan FAQ: Has location dependent mobile search been implemented?

Yes, location dependent mobile search is available on all DoCoMo mobile phones in Japan. Searching for "dentist" in a location dependent search mode ranks the dentists according to the distance from the phone’s current location. Obviously, such location dependent search can also be used for location dependent advertising services.

Location based services Japan FAQ: Who introduced the first commercial Location Dependent Services (LBS) for mobile phones?

NTT-DoCoMo introduced the world’s first commercial location dependent services (LBS) in July 2001 und the brand name “i-Area”, before any mobile phones were equipped with GPS. “i-Area” is a pre-GPS service (still in use today), which works for all traditional NTT-DoCoMo mobile phone handsets and the location is determined by the proximity to mobile phone base stations (antennas, cell phone towers).

KDDI (Japan’s second largest mobile operator) introduced the world’s first mobile phones equipped with GPS and the first GPS based location dependent services, such as personal navigation in December 2001.

Location based services Japan FAQ: Is GPS (satellite based Global Positioning System) necessary for implementing location based services for mobile phones? Can only mobile phones with GPS chips use location based services?

No. Mobile operators will always know the location of every mobile phone connected to their service to within a few hundred meters. Provided that legal, regulatory and privacy and other restrictions do not prevent their use, mobile operators can use this location information to design and to deliver location based services. In fact the world’s first commercial location dependent service (“i-Area”) was delivered by NTT-DoCoMo to mobile phones which did not have GPS installed.

Read more details and analysis in our Report on Japan’s Location based mobile services

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