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Some 79.9% of cell phone shipments -- or 318.3 million units -- in the fourth quarter of 2011 will have GPS functionality, iSuppli forecasts. This is up from 56.1% or 187.8 million units that shipped in the first quarter of 2009. The hot smartphone market is driving the adoption of GPS in mobile devices, the firm said.
"The smartphone is the key product driving the technology industry today -- and social networking services and applications spurred by GPS-related features are critical elements in the smartphone market today," said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, director and principal analyst for iSuppli, in a statement. "This is illustrated by Google Inc.'s decision to make turn-by-turn navigation, LBS [location based services], and mobile ads the central features in its bid to take on Apple in the smartphone market, and make up the central pillars of its strategy to increasingly monetize mobile search."
Portable navigation devices (PNDs) will no longer be the major platform for navigation since smartphones are taking over, the firm noted, and as a result, usage of navigation-enabled smartphones will surpass PNDs by 2014.
Embedded GPS technology won't just be limited to smartphones. iSuppli said by 2014 there will be increased penetration in a variety of consumer and computer electronic devices. Examples of devices that will have embedded GPS in 2014 include 18% of all laptops and 42% of portable handheld video game players, the firm is estimating. Suppliers of GPS semiconductors such as Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Infineon Technologies, and CSR will reap the benefits of the huge growth in mobile handset navigation, iSuppli said.
Besides embedded GPS technology, Bluetooth is also expected to experience increased penetration in consumer and computer electronic devices like wireless mice and keypads, among others, with the approval of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard supporting the Bluetooth low energy profile, iSuppli is predicting. The mobile and desktop market has typically been dominated by proprietary technologies, the firm said.