GPS, Wi-Fi Are Hot Commodities in the Smartphone Market

A smartphone capability tracker from researcher Ovum deemed GPS and Wi-Fi as "hot," as they're found on the majority of new smartphones. Internet widgets and rich Internet applications, while thought to have potential, were not. The iPhone and Android operating systems, for example, don't yet support Flash.

In the smartphone world, GPS and Wi-Fi are hot, and rich Internet application and widget frameworks are not, says a new study from researcher Ovum.
Ovum identified 77 smartphone models released between the second quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 and found that 59 had GPS capability and 49 had Wi-Fi, "indicating that these technologies are now key features across nearly all smartphones, not just high-end models," states the report.
Ovum believes consumers now expect smartphones to be equipped with Wi-Fi, though some operators are still reluctant to include it. And while GPS availability is now widespread across all major smartphone platforms, Ovum found that developers have yet to fully take advantage of this.
Attracting application developers, and building mobile application stores, has been a much-discussed topic this year, particularly as Palm Pre, with its initial handful of applications, sought to compete against the Apple iPhone, with its App Store now offering upward of 50,000 applications.
Despite all the talk, there are very few on-device application stores-namely, the iPhone, HTC's Android devices and some Nokia devices were released with preinstalled app store clients, reports Ovum.
"We expected a big change in this area in the next version of the smartphone tracker, as platform owners and manufacturers have now begun to respond in earnest to the app store buzz," states the report. "On-device app stores have launched on BlackBerry and Palm's WebOS, Nokia now has Ovi Store, Windows Mobile 6.5 will feature an app store, and a greater proportion of new handsets will feature these clients in the next version of the tracker."
As for the "not hots," Ovum reports that while widgets are an industry buzzword, only 10 percent of smartphones support their frameworks, though that number is expected to rise.
And while Ovum sees potential in RIA frameworks, for now it its sees little impact. Most successful to date, however, is Adobe's Flash and Flash Lite, which are supported by 41 smartphone models, followed by Symbian with 25. Windows Mobile support for Flash is said to be "patchy," while the iPhone and Android operating systems don't support it at all.
Another dud was TV-out capability, with only the iPhone, Symbian and Windows Mobile platform offering it. However, states the report, Ovum expects TV-out to grow in popularity among media-centric smartphones, along with increasing processing power and screen resolutions.
A July 29 report from researcher Strategy Analytics predicted a 34 percent increase in GPS-equipped smartphone shipments this year, compared with 2008. The growth, it said, is due to greater acceptance of portable navigation devices and a growing number of mapping applications.