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GPS going mainstream

2009 July 29

Strategy Analytics forecasts that smartphone shipments will reach 77 million this year.

Location aware applications are a no-brainer for the travel industry. Unfortunately, too many applications still require you to enter too much information into too many small fields. I’ve almost walked into light poles and triped on the sidewalk and ignored plenty of conversations trying to get travel information out of a mobile app. A few of these near misses are the reason I wrote FlightShaker. Travel applications can know where you are, so you shouldn’t have to enter that information.

Mobile web applications generally don’t have access to hardware like GPS and most commercial travel applications (from airlines,etc.) are still mobile web based. It’s subjective, but I think we’ve passed the inflection point where platform independence outweighs functionality. Too much innovation (and ultimately revenue) can come from using hardware like, GPS, Cameras and compasses.

Some innovation will come from the boutique application developer shops, but the big travel companies (and other Fortune 500 companies) are in a great position to revolutionize how we buy travel. Given the upheaval in the economy and the declining revenue in the industry, there’s no time to lose.

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