Vodafone targets ad dollars with new GPS

Vodafone New Zealand marketing bosses have eyes on next-generation Global Positioning Satellite software for mobile phones to boost advertising revenue.

But they say this latest mobile phone accessory - joining internet access, MP3 mobile players and cameras - will not be a big earner for some time yet.

GPS technology looks set to be the next big thing for premium phones, giving customers the ability to use phones to find where they are driving or walking and the location they are trying to reach.

In a deal with Australian online mapping firm Compass, Vodafone has started offering the service on Blackberry phones.

The market for GPS mobiles is likely to take off later this year with Apple's iPhone expected to be GPS capable.

Initially the Vodafone deal with Compass will be limited to revenue from corporate customers who would pay $2.50 a day for casual use or $10 a month to use Compass.

The service is an early sampling by Vodafone of the potential growth from the new GPS-capable phones.

As GPS technology for mobile phones develops - it has never met forecasts to take off in the past - so too will the value of the information it provides. For Vodafone, one of the big benefits will be developing advertising revenue.

Vodafone Products general manager Kursten Shalfoon said more money would be raised through attaching marketing information.

"What it means is that where we will now say, "Turn left at this street," we will give instructions to turn left at the, say, Caltex, and a promotion will spring up that says if you buy petrol there now you will be able to get a special price."

He acknowledged the dangers of including too many marketing messages on the premium service and annoying customers.

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