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Will Google and Android Kill Standalone GPS? 439

Posted by kdawson
from the wall-street-is-not-main-street dept.
xchg passes along a WiseAndroid piece on the drop in value of Garmin and TomTom shares following Google's announcement yesterday of Google Maps Navigation. "Shares of GPS device makers Garmin and TomTom plummeted... through a combination of their quarterly results and the launch of Google Maps Navigation. Following both low guidance for Garmin's next quarter as well as poor results from TomTom, shares for the two fell 16.4 percent and 20.8 percent respectively and remained low through the entire trading day after news of Google's free, turn-by-turn mapping service became public." Today Lauren Weinstein posted a number of reasons why standalone GPS won't go away any time soon.
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Will Google and Android Kill Standalone GPS?

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  • UH? (Score:2, Informative)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:26AM (#29924331) Journal

    I thought garmin was about to make an android device [slashgear.com], thus ensuring that they have nothing to worry (essentially a cellphone/gps hybrid or something, same as is released).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:29AM (#29924379)

    This new Google routing will actually cache locally your route. So unless you're starting out in BFE, more than likely you'll be covered.

  • Re:UH? (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheGreenNuke (1612943) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:30AM (#29924403)
    You're referring to this [garmin.com]. It's a reality and available now.
  • by sean.peters (568334) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:55AM (#29924773) Homepage

    Others have commented on issues like lack of ruggedization and local caching of maps (at least for some device/software combinations), and display size and mountability to stuff like mountain bikes. Another reason why dedicated GPS devices probably aren't going away any time soon: quality of the GPS receiver itself. The GPS receiver built into the iPhone, at least, is sort of weak sauce. While it works well enough in a car, if you get any kind of overhead obstruction at all (even a few tree branches, for example), the signal quickly drops to essentially nothing. This is why TomTom felt the need to offer an external GPS receiver as part of their iPhone car kit.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the GPS built into my iPhone, and frequently find it useful... but it's far from a complete replacement for a standalone device.

  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by nmos (25822) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:04PM (#29924935)

    1) It doesn't work EVERYWHERE. I'm not talking about everywhere with a wireless signal. I'm talking about EVERYWHERE.

    I don't think that'll be a limitation for long. Some smart phones already have real GPS chips rather that just AGPS and there is no reason they couldn't store maps locally. I think the Droid already pre-caches maps along any route you select so it shouldn't be hard to extend that functionality a bit.

     

  • by joggle (594025) on Friday October 30, 2009 @01:29PM (#29926105) Homepage Journal

    The military uses GPS for targeting. It's not going away until a higher-resolution replacement is found.

    The GPS consumer market is a great way for the manufacturers to ditch the receivers that don't pass military QC.

    Also, like you say, the most important places to have GPS are places where there isn't cell coverage. They still sell satellite phones for a reason. Not everyone used GPS to get to the store.

    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by manufacturers ditching receivers that don't pass military QC. Many GPS manufacturers don't make military-specific GPS receivers at all. The primary difference between a consumer and military receiver is the military receiver can decode the code on the encrypted frequency. However, with the corrections provided by WAAS and with selective availability turned off (as it has been for years now) this isn't that big of a deal if you are in North America.

    Regardless, you are talking about two totally different markets. Consumer GPS receivers aren't at all nor ever were designed for military use and aren't being 'ditched'. In addition, consumer research is at times ahead of military research. For example, at a recent GPS expo various manufacturers demonstrated new receivers that could determine accurate positions indoors. Professional GPS receivers (but still not military, so no access to the encrypted code on the second frequency) can now be used to do drive-by surveys in combination with a system of lasers.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by r_jensen11 (598210) on Friday October 30, 2009 @01:49PM (#29926355)

    My Nokia has full GPS capabilities. This, combined with an Offline profile and maps of North America (I could do all continents if I plan on visiting them) saved on the phone, mean that I have a working GPS unit on the phone without the battery drain of a GSM or any other cell connection. The only thing which would require a connection to cell towers is if I wanted satellite pictures as opposed to maps. This is all a result of Nokia purchasing Navteq in 2007.

    Now if only Nokia would push its v31 firmware upgrade to the NAM models so that I can use my GPS program in landscape mode....

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Friday October 30, 2009 @04:32PM (#29928533)

    Ironically, the places you need GPS the most are the places there is no cell phone coverage. As much as I like my Android its my Garmin that goes into the backpack.

    In other words, the way you personally use your GPS device must be the way everyone else does, right?

    You talk about putting your Garmin into your "backpack" and using it where there is no cell phone service. That's sounding to me like you're taking it hiking out in the back country. Which is fine, but that is not what most people use GPS for these days, nor is it what Google Navigation is intended for. It's intended for use while driving. (Indeed, many GPS devices produced these days will not work when off-road.)

    Most places in the United States where there's a road, there's cell phone service. No, maybe not on some rural route in Idaho, but certainly in the most populated areas. And while it may seem counterintuitive, it is actually more helpful to have GPS for car navigation in the most populated areas than it is in the least, the reason being that there are so many more roads, which means so many more turns. To get from my store in Manhattan to my home just outside the city - a distance of approximately 14 miles - requires something like 45 different maneuvers and the use of about that many different roads.

    Now, the REAL killer app for Google Navigation, which will be apparent to all eventually if it isn't now, is free cloud-provided live traffic. Most current GPS devices that provide traffic info (and remember, they all force you to pay for it in some way) do it the old fashioned way, usually by subscribing to a service that's taking call-in reports from local police or utilities, or even individual commuters. This info is always old and often wrong. Google Maps' traffic is live, taken from the cloud. Right now, my wife and I have gotten into the habit of having our GPS hooked up and having one of our phones out with Google Maps loaded up to check traffic on our route. (Remember, this is New York.) And it's always right, but there's currently no easy way for us to do anything about it when our GPS device guides us into a "red" traffic area. (We can press the "detour" button, but that doesn't really guide us around traffic, just a pre-set distance.)

    It's going to be amazing having free live traffic data integrated into Google Navigation. The only thing I haven't seen is whether there's a way to tell the app to "avoid traffic" when constructing a route, or to "detour around traffic" if traffic develops along the way. But that should be pretty easy to add if they haven't already; just another little algorithm.

    And that's the *other* great thing about this - free updates. I had to pay $80 for map and interface upgrades to my Magellan Roadmate 2200T, and while it was worth it, they only ever produced that one update and I sure would have liked it to be free. Especially considering that the update itself has its own problems, which I have now just had to live with - for example, it now messes up the side of the street destinations are on about half the time. No way to fix this except to buy a new device with new software on it. It also constantly drives me into a dead end when I go to my mother's house - the map is out of date. Again, no more updates are coming - gotta buy a new device. Waste of money.

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