in 2009 and 2010.
GPS Guide - Part 1
NEED A GPS UNIT? You May Own One Already: Your Smartphone!
The year 2011 seems to be a turning point in the mobile navigation market. While units designed for the outdoors remain most profitable, their grip is being loosened by the tremendous increase in GPS-equipped smartphones. According to Berg Insight, a market analysis firm, sales of portable car navigation dede vices will peak this year at about 42 million devices worldwide and then begin a slow decline. The decline is mainly due to smartphones as well as new cars that are equipped with built-in GPS units, or so-called “dashboard systems.” Market leader Garmin, whose revenues rose each year between 2000 and 2008, saw its sales shrink Magellan 710: Magellan’s new eXplorist devices, like this 710, are stylish and wellequipped with such features as a camera.
Garmin reports sales in four areas, of which its outdoor and sports division is the most profitable, followed by aviation and marine. But smartphones are nipping at the heels of these dedicated GPS units. Nokia, which acquired Navtech, began offering its OVI maps for free in new Nokia smartphones. This gave users a high quality turn-by-turn navigation system that could be used around the world, in the car and on foot.
market, but ended its “Nuvifon” last fall. Touring cyclists are becoming more reliant on mobile power supplies, such as Busch & Muellers’s E-Werk. Nokia has developed a low-cost power supply kit that combines a low-quality dynamo with an effective power supply kit and a Micro USB plug. It was mainly developed for Third World countries, but got lot of attention in Europe.
From their peak, Garmin’s sales have fallen 9 percent to $2.69bn, and the company has offered a disappointing forecast for 2011. Garmin sold about 16 million portable devices in 2010. Compare that with the 47.5 million iPhones that Apple sold in the same year, up nearly 90 percent over 2009.
The Garmin GPSMap62, a descendent of the famous Map60 series, uses a touchscreen like the company’s Oregon/Dakota series. © TF
Smartphones are introducing most consumers to satellite navigation. Bicycle dealers report that customers like having an electronic route finder, but fear their smartphones are too sensitive to survive the rigors of being mounted on a mountain bike’s handlebars. So it’s still an open question whether smartphones will replace dedicated outdoor GPS units.
Apple’s iPhone 4 includes a GPS receiver that performs precisely even in areas with poor satellite coverage. iPhone owners can choose among several outdoor navigation apps that are sold in the Apple App Store. But Apple’s competitors aren’t sleeping. In the last quarter of 2010, Google’s Android became the world’s leading smartphone software platform after Nokia. Shipments of Android-based smartphones reached 32.9m in the fourth quarter, according to Canalys, a market analysis firm. For bikers and hikers, smartphones still lack some important features, including readability in bright sunlight, a power supply that will last more than a day, and bodies rugged enough for the trail. But those disadvantages are being overcome. Companies including Magellan and BioLogic offer rugged iPhone cases. Both offer cases that provide back-up battery power. Rugged smartphones are still rare, but models including the Motorola Defy and some Samsung models have received special attention in the outdoor market. Garmin tried to enter the smartphone
Navigating with a mobile phone. © TF In Europe, Garmin is still the market leader for outdoor navigation devices, but is facing an increasing number of competitors Customers like easy-to-use systems like Falk’s new Ibex, with speech navigation like VDO’s GP7 (based on the Italian MyNav-devices) and Xplova’s G5. These devices contain new, routable maps that are especially developed for outdoor routing over bike paths and trails. These off-road units aren’t as reliable as car navigation units, because trails aren’t as well mapped as roadways. But they work well enough so users don’t have to spend hours at a computer planning their trips. THOMAS FROITZHEIM JOURNALIST AND NAVIGATION CONSULTANT THOMAS FROITZHEIM HAS SPECIALIZED IN GPS SYSTEMS SINCE 1999. HE IS THE FOUNDER OF NAVISO OUTDOORNAVIGATION.
Published on Mar 16, 2011