Google being Google, it is interesting to understand the impact of this announcement for the nascent indoor location market.
Setting the scene
Indoor location is basically made of two components: map content in one hand and location engine in the other hand. These components are often provided by two different types of companies.
Because GPS and Glonass are not working indoor, other types of technologies are offered by a number of companies to provide the positioning of mobile devices: Wi-Fi RF fingerprinting & triangulation (Cisco, Pole Star, Navizon), Bluetooth (NAVTEQ/Nokia), Cellular signal (GloPos), GPS Pseudolytes (Insiteo).
In addition, some companies like CSR/SiRF with its SiRFusion platform are willing to fuse several techniques/sensors to provide the best positioning depending on the sensors available.
Before talking about the impact of Google it is interesting to understand the business models and go to market strategies of the players in this market segment. There are basically two ways to monetize indoor location. One is to work directly with venue owners to provide them with tools to offer maps and navigation to their visitors and, sometimes, to track these visitors behaviours. In this category the business model is traightforward: the venue owner supports the cost of the system and offer it as a value added service.
The second type of business model is to provide a service directly to consumers with a mobile app. This type of model requires scale and the monetization is likely to come from advertising. this is where Google is obviously playing.
It is therefore interesting to understand that many players are not really afraid of Google because they not directly compete against the web giant.