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Standalone GPS Receivers Going the Way of the Dodo 422

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the why-did-you-program-me-to-feel-pain dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that more than 40 percent of all smartphone owners and 80 percent of iPhone users use their mobile devices to get turn-by-turn directions driving down sales of traditional standalone GPS units from companies like TomTom, Garmin and Magellan. During the first quarter, TomTom said it shipped 29 percent fewer GPS units compared with the period in 2008 while Garmin's unit sales fell 13 percent from the previous year. While smartphones are susceptible to interruptions from incoming phone calls and using the mapping features for a long time can chew through battery power, the list of the smartphone's shortcomings is dwindling as some of the latest navigation applications offer voice navigation and take advantage of the phone's always-connected state to offer real-time traffic updates, directions to contacts in the phone's address book and more. 'I've not stopped using a GPS because I never bought one in the first place — they are expensive and inconvenient,' says Steve Weller. 'Now with the iPhone, I will actually use GPS — and the 10 other functions it replaces.' The traditional GPS device companies are trying to adapt, seeking to expand their reach into the smartphone market. TomTom recently announced that it would introduce a portable navigation application for the iPhone that would feature turn-by-turn directions and audio prompts. 'The simplicity of having one device and not needing to pull the Garmin out of my glove compartment is enough,' says Andrew DiMarcangelo. 'I want to get into my car and do as few things as possible.'"
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Standalone GPS Receivers Going the Way of the Dodo

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    as I don't own a GPS or a Satnav and don't have a GPS in my phone, ipod or anything else.

    I use maps and if required a compass and somehow, I don't seem to get lost.

    Perhaps this is a slow news day?

    • by nizo (81281) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:32AM (#28636383) Homepage Journal

      Actually I am excited because while I have never even held a GPS unit, I'm guessing soon I will be able to get one on ebay for a few bucks.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:35AM (#28636447) Homepage

        It's all hype.

        No smartphone is waterproof and can be easily read in direct sun while mounted to a motorcycle handlebar.

        No smartphone can do what my field guide GPS can do. (Give me elevation maps... oh the iphone cant do that? sowwwy.)

        No smartphone can work well on a boat at 55mph across the water and it does not interface to my autohelm.

        Only a utterly complete fool would think the standalone GPS is going the way of the DoDo bird.

        • by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:39AM (#28636533)

          No smartphone is waterproof and can be easily read in direct sun while mounted to a motorcycle handlebar.
          Buy a case.

          No smartphone can do what my field guide GPS can do. (Give me elevation maps... oh the iphone cant do that? sowwwy.)
          Sure it can -- log into google maps, and use the elevation maps feature.

          No smartphone can work well on a boat at 55mph across the water and it does not interface to my autohelm.
          Sure they can -- put them in aeroplane mode and use the GPS chip as normal.

          Only a utterly complete fool would think the standalone GPS is going the way of the DoDo bird.
          Only a utterly complete fool would think that most standalone GPS units are used for what you just outlined. Most of them are sat just inside a car windscreen giving turn-by-turn directions, for which, a smartphone is totally ideal -- it's not like you can use your phone while driving anyway.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:44AM (#28636605)

            it's not like you can use your phone while driving anyway.

            No, that would be wrong. lol

          • by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:05AM (#28636939)

            Only a utterly complete fool would think that most standalone GPS units are used for what you just outlined. Most of them are sat just inside a car windscreen giving turn-by-turn directions, for which, a smartphone is totally ideal -- it's not like you can use your phone while driving anyway.

            Smartphone ideal as driving GPS?

            How about having a screen that is of an actually useful size for the dashboard? If you ever tried driving in New Jersey, you'd realize how important having a visible map is (more important than getting spoken directions)... and that doesn't really work very well on a 3" screen, unless you want to squint at a tiny glossy screen while driving.

            A smartphone will work in a pinch... but I would much rather have a dedicated GPS.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Lumpy (12016)

            Sure they can -- put them in aeroplane mode and use the GPS chip as normal.

            oh really? there is an rs232 NEMA stream coming out the the butt of the iphone?

            Note: most GPS is used for aircraft, navigation and outdoors use. Hell the military alone has more units than people in cars that cant read maps do.

            • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:58PM (#28638537) Homepage

              The military and commercial aircraft and boat manufacturers don't buy little consumer grade GPSes. Duh, the built in GPS on a 737 is not going to be replaced with a plug in slot for an iPhone. it's not going to be replaced by a plug in slot for a Tom-Tom Navigator 7 either. Military use is something else altogether. A military "Hand held" GPS using is about 10 inches long, by 3 inches wide, has a giant antenna on the side, weights about 10 pound and goes through its specialized and expensive batteries in about 6 hours of use. If you have a vehicle mount kit you can save on the batteries though. The screen is text only and is maybe 2"x3". It takes about an hour and half to program a reasonably simple route. Most of the guys in my unit bought Garmins before we went overseas. If it had been an option at teh time, we'd probably have used phones just as happily.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by grahamsz (150076)

            I think you have a point about incar GPS but that's been a relatively transitory product. I actually worked with an early system in the 90s but didn't know anyone that had one until 3 or 4 years ago.

            However GPS was widely used before then for outdoor sports and marine applications, and for me that's often in areas that have little cellphone coverage.

            My garmin probably gives me 2 solid days hiking on 2 AA batteries and I can easily carry a couple of sets of replacements just in case. It's splash proof and ha

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gstoddart (321705)

              The real killer for the standalone car GPS will surely be in-dash nav which is bound to become a standard factory option on lots of cars in the very near future.

              Actually, I question that.

              My girlfriend has a car with an in-dash navigation system (Pontiac Vibe). At the time (model year '03 I think) it was a $2600 option on the vehicle. It runs off a DVD, which we suspect would cost several hundred dollars to buy a new one from GM (we haven't looked into it).

              Given that you can buy an external unit for fairly

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:09PM (#28637851)

            Sure it can -- log into google maps, and use the elevation maps feature.

            Believe it or not, the internet is not ubiquitous in most parts of the world, even less so in areas where people are going to need a damn elevation map.

            Sure they can -- put them in aeroplane mode and use the GPS chip as normal.

            Accuracy, precision and refresh time of smartphone GPS's are garbage compared to a dedicated specialist unit, and this doesn't even consider the lack of proper screen size, mounting, and specialised indicators for use in maritime and aviation.

            Most of them are sat just inside a car windscreen giving turn-by-turn directions

            GPS has been out much longer in commercial and government spheres then it has in the hands of the consumer. Private and government entities have actual applications where this technology produces real benefit providing hefty incentive to use them where possible, so I doubt what you say is true at all.

            it's not like you can use your phone while driving anyway.

            Last I checked it was illegal to use your phone whilst driving in many countries around the world.

          • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:20PM (#28637979)

            No smartphone can do what my field guide GPS can do. (Give me elevation maps... oh the iphone cant do that? sowwwy.)

            Sure it can -- log into google maps, and use the elevation maps feature.

            Google Maps' terrain feature doesn't include anywhere near enough data to be useful for even day hiking. You can't zoom in far enough (the best you can get is 40 foot contour intervals), it doesn't include trails or the smaller streams that are key water sources on multi-day backpacking treks, and you can't pre-download the maps to your smartphone so that you can use them once you get out of range of the network. Besides, as others have said, the battery life of a smartphone (especially one that has to download maps on the fly) isn't anywhere close to what a handheld hiking-oriented GPS receiver can get. Nor can they work as well under tree cover, because the antennas are far smaller than what standalone GPS units have. A smartphone is only good for casual road navigation. For any off-road use, or even serious on-road use, it is a mere toy.

          • by Buelldozer (713671) <cliff.gindulis@net> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:31PM (#28638125)

            "Buy a case"

            Okay, then how do I do things like drop waypoints on an Iphone once I've stuffed it into a waterproof, dustproof, and vibration resistant case so I can mount it to the handlebars on my ATV? You know, since you can no longer TOUCH THE SCREEN.

            "Log into google maps and use the elevations maps feature"

            What if I'm out of range of the nearest cell tower? That is pretty easy to do in large swaths of the United States. Antelope don't need cell service so no one builds towers out in the mountains. Other places you CANNOT build towers, Yellowstone National Park is one good example.

            "put them in Aeroplane mode and use the GPS chip as normal"

            No. As has been mentioned by hardware and software designers in this topic the GPS chips in most smartphones, including the iphone, don't update fast enough nor have enough intrinsic accuracy for for high speed (55MPH) applications or for applications where high accuracy is required...like steering a boat.

            "Only a fool..."

            I remain unconvinced that in car navigation is the primary use for GPS. I know far too many sportsman and outdoor enthusiasts who own a dedicated outdoor GPS but NO in car Sat-Nav for me to easily accept this without proof.

            A smartphone is a terrible replacement for dedicated GPS hardware in any application BUT in car navigation.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Ephemeriis (315124)

          It's all hype.

          No smartphone is waterproof and can be easily read in direct sun while mounted to a motorcycle handlebar.

          No smartphone can do what my field guide GPS can do. (Give me elevation maps... oh the iphone cant do that? sowwwy.)

          No smartphone can work well on a boat at 55mph across the water and it does not interface to my autohelm.

          Only a utterly complete fool would think the standalone GPS is going the way of the DoDo bird.

          I think they're making the assumption that the only place a GPS is used is attached to the dashboard of a car.

        • by rhsanborn (773855) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:44AM (#28636593)
          For hiking, and boating it doesn't fit. But Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom have been rolling in piles of cash from the market of individuals who want turn by turn in their cars or as toys. It sounds like they are losing that market, and a big market it is. There will still exist the niche markets which existed before. Recreational motoring, and serious hiking, etc.
          • by RoverDaddy (869116) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:59AM (#28636847) Homepage
            Wish I could mod you up. This the point the GP misses. All the scenarios he mentions are niches, which probably will not see the GPS being replaced by smartphones in the near future. However, if companies like Garmin et. al. have to go back to catering only to those niche markets, there will be a lot of bleeding to be done. The standalone GPS might as well go extinct for the amount of shrinkage its market will see.
          • by afidel (530433) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:26AM (#28637277)
            I wish I could use a GPS for serious hiking but the fact is no one carries topo maps at max USGS resolution for a GPS unit so I still pay for the weatherproof maps from USGS when I actually need a topo map. They are also lighter and don't require batteries. I'm the exact opposite of a Luddite but I recognize the value in using the right tool for the job, and for serious offtrail hiking in rough terrain that means max resolution USGS maps.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by grahamsz (150076)

              Yeah, i find hiking with the onscreen topo maps to be a futile exercise.

              However GPS is great for getting a map reference to see exactly where you are. I had to triangulate off mountain tops last year and it took an awful lot more effort than i was expecting.

              I also like to set markers at points that i've found water (particularly if many streams on the map have dried up). It's also nice to have a log afterwards of where I was at which time - i can then correlate that with my camera datestamps and geolocate m

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          You don't get space on the NYT site, or front page Slashdot, by noting that standalone GPS sales are down 29 percent. If you use that data to make some ridiculous assumption that standalone GPS will soon go extinct, you get space in the business section so you can be read by people who's business models are based on continual expansion of a given market.

          And space on sites where technology is seen as a juggernaut that crushes everything in its path.

          People are still making really nice orienteering compasses.

          Y

        • by mrboyd (1211932) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:01AM (#28636897)
          And my garmin still use AA battery which mean I can change them in the field and procure new one easily anywhere. thanks.
        • by rockmuelle (575982) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:27AM (#28637303)

          (disclaimer: I develop GPS applications for mobile devices, including the iPhone)

          The chipsets in mobile phones can't compete with those in standalone devices. When you're sharing power between multiple radios (wifi, bluetooth, GPS, 2/3/4/nG, etc), there's just not enough power available for a running a GPS that can compete with a good standalone unit. There's also the physical space issue: the GPS needs a decent antenna that has to share space with all the other components in a cell phone.

          For walking directions, this isn't a huge deal. But, I wouldn't trust my iPhone GPS for realtime directions when I'm traveling 50 miles per hour. The iPhone's GPS can't deliver updates fast enough to make quick decisions. Sure, it will sometimes, but all it takes is one delayed direction in 10 million to cause an accident. I could see it used on highways where the next turn is a few miles off, but for city driving where you might make a few quick turns, I can't see it working very well without some assistive technology.

          The apps we develop require a high degree of precision. We've had to develop technology to augment the GPS units in the mobile devices to provide this precision. I'm sure other companies have done this too, but it's not cheap to do and the optimizations tend to exploit specific features of the application (in other words, the tricks used for one application may not be practical for another).

          The parent also points out the maps issue: standalone GPS units don't need a connection to the internet to display maps. Most mobile apps due, simply because there isn't enough storage space on the devices to store all the map data users are accustomed to having at their fingertips (elevation, traffic, satellite, home prices, etc). The lack of a connection also makes hiking/biking/off-roading/boating apps useless on mobile devices - most of those activities take place where there's no network coverage.

          -Chris

          • by schon (31600) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:20PM (#28637981)

            I wouldn't trust my iPhone GPS for realtime directions when I'm traveling 50 miles per hour. The iPhone's GPS can't deliver updates fast enough to make quick decisions. Sure, it will sometimes, but all it takes is one delayed direction in 10 million to cause an accident.

            As the GPS doesn't actually drive the vehicle, this seems like a non-issue to me.

            If someone is stupid enough to be watching the GPS instead of the road and other vehicles around them, the best GPS in the world won't prevent the accident that will inevitably follow. (And yes, it actually [jimadler.com] happens [wcbstv.com])

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sleepy (4551)

          You're correct -- but so is the article hype.

          You know some people own MORE THAN ONE GPS for exactly the reasons you describe. If you hike more than once or twice a year, you're not going to take along your car GPS with you anymore, unless you are desperate. You're going to buy a rugged waterproof GPS like your example.

          At some point, your car's needs for a GPS can be served by the smart phones. For some people the phone's GPS meets their need NOW, for others it will be served soon.

          If you look through some RE

      • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:44AM (#28636603) Homepage

        No thanks, I'll stick with my Garmin please. I've used the GPS on my phone, and it takes over 5 minutes to get a lock. My 60CSx can get a lock in under 30 seconds, from INSIDE my house. It's batteries last all day too! My phone loses GPS signal under heavy cloud cover (or at least it seems like it), and it sucks the battery down like crazy. After using the phone's gps for an hour the battery is comepletely drained. Ohh yeah, the handheld GPS has magnetic compas and altimiter that can be used when standing still. Plus it's more rugged, water proof, and it floats, I feel much safer about taking my GPS into the woods, over rocks and streams, kayaking and boating than I do with my phone.

      • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:00AM (#28636875) Homepage

        You can buy one but it will suck. It's about maps. My Tom Tom is one year old, and it already gets me into trouble because the maps on it are out of date. Tom Tom requires $10/month for their map update service. What crap!

        On a smartphone, you get free access to current maps. Why would anyone pay Tom Tom's $10/month fee?

    • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:14AM (#28637089)

      I was very much like you until I decided to Give Google Maps a try on my BB 8800. You know what I discovered? I didn't know squat about some very cool places in my own city (Houston, TX) I always stayed on the big highways and known paths unless someone I knew told me about a new restaurant, club, etc. I started using the Search function in Google Maps and going places in the city I had avoided for years for fear of getting lost in the maze of back streets. The GPS in my BB removes that obstacle and now I have discovered so much more to like about living here. Give one a try and you might even find there is life outside of the basement!

  • Already there (Score:3, Informative)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:26AM (#28636233)

    If I recall correctly it's been for years that TomTom and Garmin have been offering GPS apps for Symbian phones. That's probably all their business will be about in a few years anyways.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      I don't know about the Symbian version, but the Windows Mobile version usually lags a generation behind the standalone devices, and you can't even buy it legally in the United States.

      Also, the standalone devices will always have their place, with two primary reasons (these assume phones that have sufficient onboard storage for map data w/o the cell phone connection):
      1) For visibility while in use, a 4.3" widescreen display is very nice for a nav device. A phone that large would never sell.
      2) The GPS rece

      • 1) For visibility while in use, a 4.3" widescreen display is very nice for a nav device. A phone that large would never sell.

        Wrong. [wikipedia.org] Also, standalone device screen resolution always sucks. A 3.8" WVGA screen is much better than a 4.3" WQVGA screen in terms of readability.

        2) The GPS receiver in most phones capable of performing mapping functions (Qualcomm GPSOne) is SHIT. It's about on par with my old Garmin eMap (6+ years old) in terms of sensitivity and lock times. The far more modern GPS chipsets included

    • Re:Already there (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rthille (8526) <{gro.tagnar} {ta} {todhsals-bew}> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:19AM (#28637193) Homepage Journal

      Garmin will still sell lots of GPS units. They may not be the ones which compete with the iPhone and others, but in CA, it's illegal to use a 'nav system' in a car without it being permanently mounted (IIRC). Also, I've got 2 Garmin GPS units, one for my bike and one for my wrist when running. A friend took his iPhone on a mtn bike ride and was trying to use it for navigation, but was screwed by the fact that he needed internet for the app to work and he was out in the middle of no where.

  • by east coast (590680) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:27AM (#28636255)
    With the downturn in the economy it only stands to figure that gizmos like GPS are falling off a lot of people's shopping lists. I won't deny that some are taking the cheaper route and using an existing device for their nav but how many are using it because they have it and not because they really wanted it to begin with?

    Couple this with more and more cars coming equipped with these devices already installed.

    Between these three factors I think it's a bit easier to see where the slide is happening. Simply assuming that it's all phone based is short sighted.
    • I agree completely. There is a large portion of people that do not have smart phones, so they are obviously not using their cell phone as a GPS. There is a also a large portion of people that have had a standalone GPS unit for years, if they are thinking like I am; it still works so I'm not upgrading yet. I love how we are so quick to say a device is dead or dying just because something else can do what t does. The standalone GPS will most likely be with us for quite a while.
    • Exactly, the navigation on the iPhone is simply crap compared to my ancient Garman GPS. The iPhone is good for walking, but as for driving, I put in an address and it had me going through non-existant roads (!).
      • Completely agreed...the gps navigation feature of the iphone has been the one real disappointment I've had with it. Useless IMHO.

        I'm sticking with my Garmin for now...

    • Exactly, unemployment is way up, the economy is down with no improvement in sight and sales of a product that is not a necessity are way down. Those sales must be down because of smart phones. /s
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info AT devinmoore DOT com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:27AM (#28636261) Homepage Journal

    Earlier today, local knowledge and maps were going the way of the dodo [slashdot.org]. By the end of today, we should have hover-cars and warp drive!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:27AM (#28636263)

    ...will be introducing GPS models that have insane per-minute charges and require payments for making noises and changing screen backgrounds so mobile users will feel more comfortable.

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      You don't pay insane per-minute charges. Most phones, including the iPhone have a *real* GPS unit in them -- i.e. it picks up radio signals from satellites, it doesn't triangulate your position from cell phone towers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by adamchou (993073)
        I believe the iPhone has a light saber app that makes a WHOOSH sound when you swing it around. You might wanna try installing that and playing around with it.
  • I've got a Garmin and love it. It's made to sit easily on the dash, has a bigger screen than a phone, doesn't need cell coverage, and doesn't keep me from using my phone.

    The only thing not to like is that the maps eventually get out of date, and that it's a separate cost.

    The ideal would be to have it built in to my dash and update itself via Wi-Fi when I pull into the driveway.

    • Oh yeah, another BIG benefit: no cellular data plan needed. That alone makes it cheaper.
    • by Bakkster (1529253)

      I've got a Garmin and love it. It's made to sit easily on the dash, has a bigger screen than a phone, doesn't need cell coverage, and doesn't keep me from using my phone.

      Best justification for my standalnoe GPS, IMO. Comparing the size of the screen I want to be able to glance at while driving and the size of a screen that can comprtably fit into my pocket, they don't overlap.

      Putting the two together just gives you a phone that runs out of batteries too quickly, and a GPS that's hard to navigate by.

    • The only thing not to like is that the maps eventually get out of date, and that it's a separate cost.

      The maps do get out of date, but it's not necessarily a cost. In fact, it's one of the reasons I bought a Garmin instead of the competition; You can make your own maps, with local knowledge and without being beholden to the manufacturer. Ref http://nzopengps.org/ [nzopengps.org]

  • I don't want my GPS attached to anything that transmits a signal.
  • I'm one of them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:29AM (#28636309)
    I've never owned a stand-alone GPS, but back in January I picked up a Blackberry Storm, which is the first "smart phone" that I've owned. Frankly, if there is anything about this phone that actually justifies having it, it would most definitely be Google Maps, which can talk to the GPS chip in the phone to find out where I am and were I'm going without having to pay for the Verizon Navigator thing or for a separate GPS device. If it's not too cliche, I'd say that it really has changed my life for the better as I used to get lost all the time (with a 5-digit Slashdot ID at age 25, I clearly don't get out much).
    • I've also got a Storm, but google maps usually shows my location "within1800 meters", which isn't very good. I'm not sure if it's the phone or the application, but I haven't had much luck with Google Maps on Storm.

  • by mwilliamson (672411) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:31AM (#28636349) Homepage Journal
    Never, and I repeat, NEVER agree to pay for GPS "service." You already have in your federal taxes. These ***hole cellphone companies that charge you for GPS are full of themselves. I will never use a phone-based GPS if it costs me a penny extra. Vote with your wallet.
    • by Java Pimp (98454)
      I had considered this point of view as well until I considered the cost of the standalone unit vs the GPS "service". So you pay a monthly service fee but it's a whole lot cheaper than the standalone unit plus your maps are always up to date. For Garmin anyway, on top of the initial unit cost, map updates are not free... Of course I have other reasons for not wanting cell phone GPS...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sheepofblue (1106227)

      You pay for the significant effort expended to create the maps. You pay for the receiving hardware. You pay for the support and R&D in the prior mentioned items. If they also had to provide the sats then it would be beyond the means of many of the people that use the system today. So vote on, I did I have a standalone unit that I use on my motorcycle all the time.

    • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:44AM (#28636597) Homepage

      GPS only provides your position, not map data.

      The navigation services offered by providers give you the map data and the routing algorithms to do more with that GPS than feed you a string of numbers.

      Use of the GPS receiver in AT&T devices is 100% free unless you want to use Telenav, which provides map data, POI searches, and routing functionality. If you don't like the idea of paying for service, you can pay Garmin for standalone software that does the same thing. (Or, if you live outside the US, TomTom - TomTom Navigator is no longer sold to US customers starting with Navigator 7.)

    • Never, and I repeat, NEVER agree to pay for GPS "service." You already have in your federal taxes. These ***hole cellphone companies that charge you for GPS are full of themselves. I will never use a phone-based GPS if it costs me a penny extra. Vote with your wallet.

      You're buying the maps and engine when you pay for an application. I agree that a monthly cost for GPS use is absurd. You can put Tom Tom, Garmin, or iGuidance on most GPS-equipped phones and not have to worry about that. I use iGuidance and have actually replaced my sirf III based GPS unit with my diamond.

  • I Use Both (Score:2, Interesting)

    by therpham (953844)
    I have an iPhone and a dedicated GPS unit because I don't want my phone triple-tasking as a phone, music player, and GPS unit while I'm driving. I don't trust it to do that many things at once without them tripping over each other at some point.
  • by a2wflc (705508) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:31AM (#28636359)

    29 and 13% fewer sales may be meaningful, but may not. How much have sales of other items fallen in this economy? What % of people who would use a GPS had bought one in previous years so didn't need one this year. I've been looking at getting one of these for a few years, and late 2007 was the first time the price & features were what I was looking for. So I could see 2008 being a big selling year for anyone who wanted one and thus 2009 would be a drop off from 2008. (I finally bought my first one 2 weeks ago so there's at least one example counter to my argument but I still think it's possible)

  • I've got one. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bloobloo (957543) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:32AM (#28636363) Homepage

    Why would I need to buy another one? My mobile phone gets wear and tear in my pocket, but my GPS stays in the car, until I need to update the maps. So there's really no need to upgrade on a continuous cycle.

  • And how about digital cameras? And how are mobiles game consoles going to sell a few years from now?

    Those are other functions cellphones are replacing. We get more and more functionality crammed into fewer and fewer devices. I guess in a few years we'll have cellphone sized computers with jacks to attach keyboards, monitors and other various periphery so we can use them with sensible input and output devices while we're stationary and still retain some or most of the functions while we're mobile.

    What I'd in

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:36AM (#28636473)

    My dad's in his late 60's and I got him a TomTom for christmas. That's what he wanted. It's simple enough for him to use and he doesn't have any problems with figuring it out. The screen is large and easy for him to read. I also know a number of hunters and hikers who go to places were the GPS in cell phones won't work, but a GPS receiver still will.

    I just add a Cell phone for him to my plan for fathers day. (He had a crappy pre-paid one in the car for emergancies, but he never used it because it didn't work on the farms.). It has turn by turn naviation, if you want to pay for the feature, but he's never going to use it. First off the screen is too small and he barely uses it now to make phone calls. I think I've called him more than anything.

    Now take me. I have an iPhone. I use the turn by turn directions on a regular basis. I have no need to get a Tom Tom. I use my iPhone. There are different markets here that are served by different products. Now, they may not sell as many GPS systems, but they still have their uses.

    • by rho (6063)

      I also know a number of hunters and hikers who go to places were the GPS in cell phones won't work, but a GPS receiver still will.

      This.

      Even some of the older handheld units are squirrelly when you're really off in the weeds. Handheld units really come into their own when you start talking about marine usage, where durability, water resistance and flotation come into play.

  • Oh, really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:39AM (#28636523)

    As TFS itself points out, much of the navigate-by-smartphone market is people who wouldn't have bought a GPS anyway. Either they didn't like the idea, or for some it would never even have occured to them... but put it in their hands as an add-on to something they do want, and voila!

    The GPS market, meanwhile, has a lot of people who either need and/or are conditioned to believe they need a specialized device rather than an add-on feature to a generic electronic gadget.

    So why would stand-alone GPS sales be down? Hmm, I just can't seem to think of any other factor that might be in play [google.com]

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:39AM (#28636529)

    Only reason Garmin and TomTom sold hardware was because there was no other way. with the iphone and other cell phones becoming more powerful there is no reason to sell hardware anymore since all the value is in the software. TomTom is going to sell a whole kit for the iphone that includes the software, and a way to mount it on your windshield and plug it in so the battery doesn't wear out

  • Another key advantage of the smartphone-type GPS? Less theft.

    Since most folks carry their phones around with them, the default behavior for these is to remove them from the car everytime you step away. Also, since GPS service is frequently tied to a data plan, as soon as you cancel, that part of the functionality disappears for the thief (plus some types of phones can be blacklisted by the provider, making it even more difficult for the thief to benefit).

  • by Speare (84249) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:43AM (#28636575) Homepage Journal

    I've owned a Garmin for well over a decade, and I've not seen one app on any phone that could match it for functionality. All the apps-on-phones will show you a map (usually network scraped from Google Maps or the like), but very few will have a single-key "Mark This Spot" (aka Man Overboard), or an easy Waypoint database, or easy Routing between waypoints, or measure useful things like Velocity Made Good (velocity towards target, not velocity in your current heading). I've seen little support for logging tracks to a simple file format you can retrieve for analysis (like geotagging photos from non-phone cameras), because phones and phone apps don't like to support file systems. When GPS apps actually perform better than GPS units at common GPS tasks, then I'll be interested.

  • I've never even used a dedicated GPS navigation device at all; I went straight to a general-purpose device in the form of a good Pocket PC (iPAQ hx4700) and a separate Bluetooth GPS receiver (Globalsat BT-338). The iPAQ does a multitude of other useful things when it's not being used as a navigator (PDA, PIM, MP3 player, Wi-Fi VOIP phone, universal remote control, etc.), has a 4-inch screen to rival most of the dedicated devices, and the batteries in the GPS receiver last 20 hours. I also have topographic nav software for it as well, so I can pop the extended battery onto the iPAQ and take the pair on the trail for a weekend backpacking trip. I've also been able to pick and choose from a variety of navigation software to use, which would NOT be an option with a dedicated device. The combined price tag was larger than an equivalent dedicated device, but the combined capabilities are far greater.

    Garmin, Magellan, TomTom, Navigon... eat your hearts out.

  • Eh? Most smartphone GPSes do not work everywhere, compared to a standalone GPS. Secondly, good luck trying to drive in a city like Boston without a GPS - and good luck going on a long trip with the risk of your battery running out (compared to a car GPS with comes with a car charger). I pretty much have to stop using the phone and use only the GPS feature, which defeats the purpose of a phone.

    And some of us travel so often that it is a lot easier to have a GPS with us in our laptop bags. You never know when

    • Umm, excuse me? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sean.peters (568334)

      Secondly, good luck trying to drive in a city like Boston without a GPS

      Right, because no one ever drove in Boston before they invented GPS. Look, I agree that GPS units are really, really handy, but even way back at the dawn of time, in the eternal mists of the past, even before... the Internet (cue trumpet blast)... people still managed to drive with these things called maps. Which you bought pre-printed on a substance called "paper". Even in Boston.

      I'll agree that a standalone unit is probably going to be

  • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#28636653) Homepage Journal

    ....says Andrew DiMarcangelo. "I want to get into my car and do as few things as possible."

    I don't want to do anything extra, such as:

    - using my mirrors
    - using my turn signals
    - paying attention to traffic
    - planning lane changes ahead of time
    - thinking

    That sounds like most of the drivers around where I live.... :-)

  • by joeflies (529536) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#28636655)

    If 80% of the iPhone users use it for turn by turn directions RIGHT NOW, just what application are they using? If they are referring to the google maps application, it isn't something that you'd use while driving, like a true GPS device does. It's the same as using your web browser to get directions to a location and printing it out, but conveniently the article doesn't mention the percentage of users who use the web browser to print directions. It just simply took a simple scenario, distorted the facts and presented it as evidence.

    It also didn't mention other big reasons that people don't buy standalone GPS devices - it's already integrated in the car. A second factor is that buying standalone devices increases the chances of someone breaking into the car to stealing it, often causing more damage than the device is worth.

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:48AM (#28636663) Journal

    Anyone telling us that dedicated GPS is going the way of the dinosaur is talking marketing drivel and trying to sell you a phone with a GPS.

    The chips sets in the phones I've tried including the one on my Nokia 6220 classic are complete crap compared to my TomTom one XL or my Garmin Etrex Legend Hcx. The dedicated GPS units lock on quickly and continue to work if you take them indoors. (Sometimes they even lock on indoors, which amazes me because I live in a 2 story house). In contrast my phone GPS takes ages, loses the signal easily and to top it off if I want maps or assisted GPS I have to pay for it.

    Not to mention the fact that they're more useful in a car rather than attached to a mobile phone (which is illegal to operate while driving a vehicle where I live). I'd expect rather to see them built into cars more and more as standard.

    Unfortunately the GPS companies are also trying to make you pay again and again with map updates. Still, phones also require map updates. I'd love to see a GPS come on the market that used open maps (Open maps do exist!) and attached into some standard sized dashboard module. Let the hardware manufacturers make their money honestly on the hardware.

  • And here slashdot was just saying [slashdot.org] that satnav was going to destroy local knowlege!

    I have GPS on my phone, but I don't use it, as I suspect it will cost me. Maps are cheap and disposable.

  • by shaper (88544) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:11AM (#28637029) Homepage
    The article (and a lot of comments I have read so far) are only talking about casual navigation GPS, as in vehicle GPS units. The current crop of phone GPS solutions is inadequate for backpacking, camping, exploring or basically any outdoor activity that takes you very far away from a cell tower or a charging station.

    Most non-dedicated GPS units do not have a compass (the new iPhone 3GS is a notable exception).

    Most non-dedicated GPS units have pretty wretched sensitivity and accuracy compared to dedicated GPS units, especially in rough terrain or heavy tree cover. Anybody who does much geocaching will know this. It's no big deal while driving, but it can be very annoying to take the time to claw your way up a steep hillside only to realize you are 100 feet away from where you want to be, on the other side of a deep ravine. Even with driving, inaccuracy can be annoying, which is why TomTom includes another dedicated (more accurate) GPS in the vehicle mount for the new iPhone.

    Most phones do not use standard AA or AAA batteries, making it more difficult and expensive to carry spares out away from electrical connections.

    Some (most?) phone-based GPS solutions do not even install maps locally on the device, instead relying on cellular communications to download maps live, making them totally useless outside of cell coverage. AT&T's recently announced product for the iPhone is one example.

    Rain (or anything else that might get the unit wet). There are many dedicated GPS units available that have various levels of water resistance.
  • by rrossman2 (844318) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:26AM (#28637287)
    There's a big issue that's missed here... I have verizon and live in central PA (State College area). When you head out from town, cell coverage is next to non-existent. It's very hit and miss, you can send a text out in some spots, but not make or receive a call.

    I've tried using the VZW Navigator app during the free trial on my BB Storm. I've tried using the garmin app for BB's free trial, and I've used Google Maps.

    Garmin's app for the BB has the best feel overall, and can be integrated with Panoramio, which is neat. Google's works for finding places or people (Latitude), but doesn't do voice prompts. VZW Nav just looks like a cheap nav app and for the $10 a month, you'd be better off purchasing the Garmin app for $100.

    Now here's the big issue... the BB GPS chip works apparently by talking to the cell tower. I've tried turning the feature to enhance the GPS location off, and things like Geotagging my photos won't work when I have little to no cell service, even if the GPS signal is strong. I purchased a cheap $30 16 channel Bluetooth GPS receiver, and when it's paired the GPS feature works with full or no cell service. I'm not sure how many other phones have this happen, and I'm not sure if there's a work around for the BB Storm, but from what I've seen the stand alone GPS units are still the way to go ($200 garmin) as some also work as a hands free device for those states that require that. But if I did have to use a GPS program on a cell phone, the phone better have a large screen, such as the Storm, and have a well laid-out and clean UI such as the Garmin app.. Nothing like the VZW Nav interface.

  • by elcid73 (599126) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:28AM (#28637313) Homepage

    Pros: like others mentioned, my phone is already streaming pandora or playing music and occasionally taking calls/texts- having all of these being done by one device at the same time is a bottleneck -if not of hardware, then certainly of user interface

    Cons: my stand alone, dedicated, only has one job to do in it's whole stinking existence, GPS receiver takes *forever* to triangulate. Granted if I sit in one place it works relatively fast, but a large number of times I'm already moving when I need it to come to life. My iphone triangulates on cell towers to get me going "well enough" right away, and still even manages to triangulate GPS faster than my NUVI. This is a frustrating PITA.

    Also, the NUVI interface, although highly recommended by my user experience colleagues, is pretty cumbersome. Address entering that requires the STATE and CITY EVERY TIME is frustrating. I would like the menu choices of inputting addresses to a include "near me" option or have it done radially like google maps does.

  • by klausboop (322537) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:16PM (#28637935)

    I can't argue with their sales data, but I concur with the "hogwash" tag. There was a time when I carried a PIM, a Cell Phone and an MP3 player, and rejoiced when I could finally afford a single converged device. It makes sense both from a technological and a practical point of view that we've achieved further convergence to the point that one device can additionally have GPS and games and a camera and video and internet browsing and more. However, there is a ceiling on the eyeballs-to-interfaces ratio that you're going to hit at some point: there's only so many things you can do at once.

    On a recent long car trip my "phone" was monopolized as I had it playing music for the whole ride, and my wife frequently used it to surf the net. Occasionally we even took a phone call. In short, because we were already using multiple other features on the "phone," the GPS functions could not be in front of my eyes when I wanted them.

    So count me in as someone who does have a mobile convergence device but was nonetheless very happy to have purchased a standalone GPS (my first, a TomTom One XL), earlier this year (ironically right in the middle of their 1st quarter sales downturn).

  • buggy whips (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:46PM (#28638345) Journal

    It's been a bizarre progression. A few years ago I got a new stereo for the car which included (amongst other things) a navigator with turn-by-turn instructions. It was really expensive. Map updates for this beast are available every two years for a street price of about $150. (List price $270.)

    A short time later, I could buy a Garmin (with free map updates) for the cost of just the map updates for my current, car-bound GPS. (You'd think the manufacturer of my unit would respond to this market reality by lowering the price of their updates. Nope.)

    But I don't have to buy a Garmin, because a few months ago I acquired a free application on my Blackberry that gives turn-by-turn instructions and also has free updates.

    I can see the appliance manufacturers moving to software solutions to survive. I hope they realize that ease of use is paramount. I've rejected a few apps because they were too annoying to program.

    But I suspect there will always be specialist applications for GPS that require an appliance. For when you need a screen bigger than 3 inches wide, or you're away from cellular service.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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