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Smartphones, netbooks lead global GPS surge

30% GPS IC shipment growth in 2010

While GPS semiconductor (IC) shipment growth slowed during 2009, next year should see a 30 percent increase in shipments.

The unabated interest in GPS-enabled smartphones during the recession has been a life-saver for the GPS semiconductor industry, and future growth will be fueled by the integration of GPS in feature phones across Europe and Asia, and its appearance in an ever-growing number of new consumer form factors such as MIDs, netbooks, media players, gaming consoles, GPS watches, digital cameras, and connected cars.

Apple's iPhone 3GS debuted GPS on its launch in June.

Apple iPhone 3GS review

"With GPS well on the way to becoming a ubiquitous feature across the mobile consumer space, GPS chipsets are subject to increasingly challenging requirements," says ABI Research practice director Dominique Bonte.

"Many new LBS services such as social networking, tracking, logging, and geo-tagging require always-on, instant operation even in the absence of network assistance and without sacrificing battery life or increasing cost. This has prompted both u-blox and CSR to design their new u-blox 6 and SiRFStar IV / SiRFaware architectures, optimized for battery-powered portable devices."

GPS/Satnav reviews

Other important trends include the adoption of post-processing for geo-tagging and tracking applications as implemented by u-blox in its "Capture & Process" technology, support for new GNSS systems such as Glonass and Galileo, jammer remover functionality, sensor support, System-on-Chip (SoC) implementations such as STMicroelectronics' Cartesio+ application processor and Broadcom's BCM4760 "PND-on-a-chip", and software-based GPS (Fastrax).


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