As Google unveiled free navigation system for mobile phones, Sat Nav market trembled, and the immediate shock was evident in the price fall of leading sat nav maker’s market share. Garmin’s share was dripped down by 18%, where as TomTom had a slap of 13 %.
Initially, Google Maps Navigation was made available only on mobile phones that run on Android 2.0 platform. But now, Google has extended its availability to mobile phones that run on Android 1.6 and higher. With this some older devices like myTouch 3G and T-mobile G1 got access to Google Maps Navigation. Could this be a wake up call to the sat nav providers?
Google Maps Navigation will provide turn-by-turn navigation, automatic re-routing, and 3D street level views. Real Time Traffic information is made available to avoid traffic jams. Concisely, Google Maps Navigation provide everything that a stand alone sat nav can do. Moreover, there is no hassle of regularly updating your device, because the latest, and accurate maps will be sent to your android phones by Google over the mobile phone network. With Google offering such prominent features, there is no wonder that the established sat nav makers are worried on Google Maps Navigation’s arrival.
But there are some key factors to notice before we write satellite navigation system’s obituary. To begin with, consider the cost of an android phone when compared to a stand alone device. It is obviously higher and may not be affordable to all. There is also a problem of GPS handsets getting heated faster.
Another major factor is the speed. This is where sat nav devices score. With their advanced lane guidance and spoken instructions, Sat navs show lanes precisely, and also re-calculates it faster if you take a wrong turn. But mobile phone performs less in this aspect. It takes more time in calculating it. This is not because of any software problem, rather it is because of the weak mobile phone signals. May be that is why TomTom app recommends the users to buy a cradle to hold your iPhone, charge it, as well as to boost its signal quality.
Another concern would be the size of the mobile phone when compared to the size of a sat nav. It will be harder for a mobile phone to fit with all stuffs of a GPS kit. Google is said to be already working on this problem. ‘Caching’ maps could be a solution, rather than ‘live-streaming’ them on to the handset. As iPhones are already caching an entire online store of Ocado into it, it is not impossible to cache maps into a mobile phone.
When such issues are sorted out, Google Maps Navigation can replace traditional sat navs by all means. Ultimately, the handsets are becoming (or became) a multitasking gadgets, handling everything from social networking to GPS. Perhaps, the current sat nav devices must concentrate more on delivering better user experience than these free alternatives for their survival. In order to cope up, sat nav manufacturers have tried coming up with applications for mobile phones/iPhones, better maps, car kits for iPhones and so on. Let us wait and see who wins the match.