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Will Google and Android Kill Standalone GPS? 439

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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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:25AM (#29924315)

    Some of us don't want or need cellphones.

    They still make standalone mp3 players and pdas and cameras.

    They still even make standalone cell phones.

    For Android to kill GPS, they would have to offer it cheaper than a standalone and provide a working GPS function that did not require a cell phone service contract for it to work.

    • Many phones play music - but the iPod market is still very strong.
      • Many computers play DVDs and have TV tuners, but the DVD and television markets are still pretty strong too.

        Of course, things are converging slowly.

        But IMO devices like GPSes need larger screens than you typically want for your phone, so until we get roll-up or HUD type displays then it's still better to have separate devices for everyday use.

        • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:10PM (#29925047) Homepage

          This is why even with "Standalone" map software (e.g. software where all maps are stored on the device, thus not requiring any cellular coverage to work) for my AT&T Tilt 2 (which has a relatively large screen as PDA-phones go), I still use my standalone GPS - while the screen is lower resolution, it's larger. Actually TomTom's PDA software gets hard to use on high-res screens.

          I would never use anything that required cellular coverage for basic navigation functions, even though the new Google solution supposedly caches your entire route, that doesn't help you if you miss a turn and go offroute and need a re-calc.

    • Sprint did this before Google did. If you purchased any smartphone recently from Sprint, (i.e. Touch Pro 2 or Palm Pre), then you already have Sprint Navigation on your phone. It has no additional fees, provides turn-by-turn navigation with text-to-speech (reads the street names to you), and requires an internet connection. I'm sure this didn't have much of an impact on standalone GPS and neither will Google Maps Nav.

      They both have the fundamental limitation that they require an active internet connectio

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 )
      Here's a question: are standalone GPS significantly better than a cell phone GPS?

      Because in the examples you gave, the standalones are miles ahead of the phone equivalent (at least in the majority of phones).

      While cameras in phones are getting better, they still generally aren't the kind you'll want to print and put up on the wall.

      MP3 players in phones tend to be nowhere near as usable as an ipod (or many other mp3 players).

      PDAs I'm least familiar with (at least current ones) but I suspect the s
      • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @01:17PM (#29925955) Homepage

        Here's a question: are standalone GPS significantly better than a cell phone GPS?

        Most standalone and cell phone GPS receivers are the same. Everyone is using a cheap commodity GPS receiver like the SiRFstar III. Dedicated GPS units often have a better antenna, but the data coming from the receiver is generally the same no matter what the device. Beyond that, it's all what you do with the data in software.

    • I utterly and completely agree with you - particularly in rural areas, GPS needing 3G or Edge connection isn't going to cut it.

      But, this will impact sales. I don't know about TomTom, but my experience with Garmin is that it's routing is shit. I have several units and there are a ton of spots where it will consistently take you via a route that takes much longer, it wants to exit from the fast highway usually one exit too early in order to go the roads beridden with stop signs and lights, and in some cases

    • I'm a cheapskate (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      I'm on my 4th mobile phone, since the 1980's. Mostly because of gaps here and there, because plans were expensive and I didn't really need a mobile too much.

      Now I'm on Pre-Paid and love it. Per month cost is 5 to 10 bucks, which leaves a _lot_ of money for things like buying a GPSr which will work more reliably in most places my mobile phone can't even score 1 bar (like much of Uvas Road, near Morgan Hill, California, where I witnessed an accident, but couldn't make a mobile phone call - nobody could! Th

  • UH? (Score:2, Informative)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 )

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

  • by npcole ( 251514 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:27AM (#29924361)

    ...when there is good, reliable, 3g coverage or better everywhere, and when data charges (especially when roaming abroad) are negligible. But frankly, the places I most need GPS are where coverage is poor and roaming charges are high.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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.

      • It is not the GPS satellite constellation that will be replaced, but the standalone consumer GPS navigation devices. Once every cellphone comes with GPS facilities and navigation software, who needs to buy standalone units from TomTom or Garwin? Smartphones have been taking market from PDA companies like Palm for years now. GPS navigation is just the next application to be done by smartphones instead of custom hardware.

        I still see a market for standalone units embedded in cars, much like car radios come i

        • by rotide ( 1015173 )

          I don't think so. Frankly, I enjoy having a phone that is small-ish and clam shell design.

          But even if I liked having an iPhone size screen on my phone, I still want something easily readable. As it stands, the iPhone has what, a 3.5" screen? I prefer my 4.3" Garmin when it's sitting a few feet away and I still need it to be easily readable.

          Yes, phones can be bigger, but do you really want huge phones just so they have the ability for dual use dash GPS use?

          Standalone GPS will survive for those that want s

          • In regards to screen size, research is already being done to move user interaction away from screens in general. Think projection [], direct retinal display [], etc.
            • IMO the ideal "screen" for in-car GPS is a HUD and several car companies (e.g. BMW) have this as an option for some time. If you want GPS on the go however, such devices would have their uses.
          • Actually, phones with games have not killed the hand held game market for a couple of practical reasons namely the software platform performance, human interface, developers. Once you start having platforms with larger displays and multi-touch interfaces however, the tables start turning rapidly. Mobile phone GPS has none of those issues.

            TV's with builtin DVD players have nothing to do with it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by joggle ( 594025 )

        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 ta

  • by sarahbau ( 692647 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:28AM (#29924375)

    It sounds like the maps will still only be hosted by Google, rather than stored on the device as with standalone GPSs. As long as that's the case, there will probably still be standalone units.

    • by Enry ( 630 )

      I agree. When we go on vacation in central NY (Cooperstown area), the cell reception is pretty spotty, let alone use AGPS. If my maps go away, I'm lost.

    • It's modded troll because the truth is that while all maps are not stored on the unit, maps for the current route are cached locally. As long as you have service when you start driving and you don't go too far out of your way, you'll be fine.
      • As an iPhone user, this is one of the reasons I give the iPhone four out of five stars. You can't run multiple aps at once, and if you accidentally exit out of your GPS application while driving (which include inbound calls) you lose the cache, and you are now lost unless you have enough cell phone service to download the map again.
      • Then the moderation is wrong. Incorrect fact != troll. (Go read the FAQ again). Additionally, the local cache can be fairly small and the area without adequate cell service rather large giving you a dead zone in the GPS application. It is a big enough problem that the cell phone based GPS services won't replace the stand alone units.
    • Google isn't dumb.

      What if you could "preload" maps of areas you are likely to be in ahead of time into your device? My phone (Blackberry 8330) has a microSD card that could hold all the maps of any place I might head to on vacation. In fact, because it is a microSD card, I could preload many cards with maps and have them available.

      While I'm sure the early versions of gMaps and gNavigate will not have this available, I would suspect that Google will no doubt figure out that this gaping whole (no goatse here

      • That will work if you're going from A to B, and have the route planned already. If you're already lost at X, where they don't have 3G, when you decide you need to use the GPS app, you're out of luck.

        I personally still wouldn't get a standalone GPS though. For the times when I'm really lost, I still have an atlas in my car. Hopefully Google will update the iPhone map app to allow turn-by-turn as well. Currently it almost requires a copilot to use, but it's still better than having to print directions beforeh

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        Google has in theory had the ability to do this on the PC platform for years, but they haven't.

        I don't expect to ever see the ability to install a full Google Maps database to an SD card. Until that happens (which I don't think will happen), TomTom and Garmin will always have a place.

    • Accoding to engadget the route is cached when calculated, so as long as you don't go too far of course.... []

    • It'll be an interesting battle of philosophies there. Nobody wants to miss a turn because the Google map didn't download in time, but on the other hand nobody wants to pay $70 to Garmin every time they need to update their maps.

    • Standalone units are great for camping and hiking in areas with no cell phone single. They are dedicated to one thing, so if you only need one thing you can save a lot of hardware space and battery life by having it do just the one thing. They could be even lighter if they only had the on-board storage to hold the maps you need, as opposed to topographical maps of the entire western US, as well as road data and a bunch of other 'white pages' type junk. Also, if you are out in the back woods and your GPS
  • Computer (Score:5, Funny)

    by conureman ( 748753 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:29AM (#29924387)

    I don't want to talk to a computer unless it has Majel Roddenberry's voice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by e2d2 ( 115622 )

      (picking up mouse and talking into it) "Computer?"

      Oh, a keyboard. How quaint.

  • Not yet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Thyamine ( 531612 ) <> on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:31AM (#29924425) Homepage Journal
    I didn't read the article, of course, but right away my first thought is trying to use the GPS and be on the phone at the same time would be a problem in an all-in-one style device. Of course you shouldn't be on the phone (technically, perhaps), but we do it anyways. At least I do. I won't speak for the rest of you since I know at least one person will say that of course they never do and I'm evil for doing it. But I know I've used my GPS and phone at the same time in general, let alone finding some difficult place that isn't fully locatable in GPS. Back roads, unlisted roads, mismatched turns, etc.
    • As opposed to using the standalone GPS while you are on your phone.

      Yep, the silence is deafening.

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:32AM (#29924441)

    1) It doesn't work EVERYWHERE. I'm not talking about everywhere with a wireless signal. I'm talking about EVERYWHERE.
    2) I'm not going to pay a monthly fee to use something. I paid Microsoft $X for Streets & Trips. It's one of the rare programs that I will spend the time to virtualize. It's gotten me east coast to west coast with only 1 problem, and that was user error (Grand Canyon Park is NOT the same as "Grand Canyon", the geographic center. Though it was an interesting drive into nothing).
    3) AT&T is choking hard with a ton of people browsing the web. Imagine if everyone on the road suddenly was streaming a few K/s. It would bring the network to its knees. I somehow doubt that AT&T is going to pull through and upgrade.

    • Good thing Droid, the first phone to introduce this turn-by-turn Google Maps, is coming out on Verizon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nmos ( 25822 )

      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 Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        I don't know about Android, but for Windows Mobile (and I'm fairly certain iPhone), phones do.

        Take a guess who is providing the maps and software for that approach?

        Yup, TomTom and Garmin.

        Google "Garmin Mobile XT".

        In theory Google could offer a solution with a client side full map database, but it would be inconsistent with how they have done business in the past. Android's new mapping solution won't kill TomTom or Garmin for the same reason Google Earth and Google Maps haven't killed products like:

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM ( 157947 )

      >>I'm not going to pay a monthly fee to use something.

      It's free.

      >>AT&T is choking hard with a ton of people browsing the web

      It's Verizon.

      (Which makes statement #1 so amazing to actually be true. They are firmly within the anal-violation school of retail pricing.)

  • Missing Factor... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:32AM (#29924445) Homepage

    Will Google and Android Kill Standalone GPS?

    Will Google and Android and Verizon Kill Standalone GPS?

  • by Lemming Mark ( 849014 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:33AM (#29924455) Homepage

    I'll personally replace my outdoors-oriented Garmin when I can get a bicycle-mountable, rucksack-clippable, fully waterproof (i.e. submerge for a significant length of time, not just splashproof), robust and accurate GPS device. That doesn't cost more than I paid for the Garmin in the first place. And can run on AA batteries for long periods of time, so I can swap batteries when they run down.

    In fact, I probably still won't replace my Garmin even if they match those features. If I'm trekking around outdoors with the thing, it's nice to know that losing or smashing it won't result in the loss of my phone, address book, PDA, MP3 and video player, camera ... I like the idea of having everything available in one device but for some applications it's nicer not to have all my eggs in one valuable (in monetary, information and functionality terms) device.

    For stuff like car satnav devices I can see GPS-enabled phones making more of a dent, since the top of a car dashboard is a much friendlier environment for a phone. Moreover it's somewhere you'd probably want a phone anyhow, so you can use it handsfree, listen to music, etc. The really slick car satnav designs are integrated into the dash, though. Given we've already seen ipod docks built into cars, maybe in the future we're looking at a much more full-featured dock that'll connect the phone to audio, dash display, GPS antenna, etc. On the other hand, given computers are cheap and get cheaper, maybe that'll be unnecessary as the car will have bucketloads of integrated computers already.

    • by Speare ( 84249 )


      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). There's a way to edit some of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dare nMc ( 468959 )

      Not really about when are we going to throw away our Garmins. It's about garming charging for maps, road construction, safety camera info, updates. I was debating about paying the $150 for lifetime maps for my Nuvi. But it's locked to a single device, not editable in anyway and pricey (on top of the $180 single use device.) All thoughts of purchasing that are now gone for this phone. I will keep my garmin Vista (or replace with similar) for riding the quads/motorcycles/mountain bikes where there are no

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Phones are relatively fragile, and their batteries are relatively feeble; by comparison my hiking GPS takes two easy-swapped AA's and gives 12-16 hours of use from them, and it takes all the abuse I can think to give it.

    I wouldn't want to risk my phone-GPS running down my phone-phone: that's a safety fail just waiting to happen.

    These arguments don't apply to driving GPS, where there's power available, or mooching-round-town GPS, where trips are short and safety non-critical. So smartphone GPS won't kill th

  • by ramunas ( 771197 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:35AM (#29924503) Homepage
    Here's my problem with the android GPS, and for that matter with cell phone google maps - it all works perfectly when you live in a huge country, and where the possibility that you might need to use the navigation features offered by GPS without ever leaving the country is fairly large - hence you are not really worried about the data charges, since you are using the same operator.

    BUT. If like me, you live in a small European country, where within the country there is practically no need for the GPS because you know most of the country by heart. Thus the only reason for using a car GPS navigation is when you leave the country. But that's exactly the moment the huge roaming data charges begin to apply. Therefore the only practically viable option unless you don't care how much you spend on your phone costs is by using an offline solution like a Tom-tom or Garmin device.
    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      If like me, you live in a small European country, where within the country there is practically no need for the GPS because you know most of the country by heart. Thus the only reason for using a car GPS navigation is when you leave the country.

      What about cities you've never been to before, or even just areas or shops close by that you've never been to before? Or what if you're in a place you know perfectly well how to drive to, but don't know where the nearest doctor/petrol station/whatever is - ie. a P
    • Why does it work for the US only? Google Maps are most certainly available in other countries, and just because you have no need for a GPS doesn't discount it. TomTom is based out of Europe, for one.

    • by slim ( 1652 )

      If like me, you live in a small European country, where within the country there is practically no need for the GPS because you know most of the country by heart.

      How small? Monaco?

      There are two situations where I feel GPS is useful for driving:

      1. For the last few miles of your journey to an unfamiliar town. I can easily find my way from London to Manchester without GPS. Sat Nav is a big help finding my way to a specific street address once I'm there.

      2. For finding back-roads, when the route you know is blocked. There's really only one 'A' road leading from my parent's home in West Wales, to the Midlands. When a motorbike accident caused the police to

  • All well and good it's free, and even if I could pre-plan a route and store that info on the deivce, it still creates big headaches when i can't access a cellular network data service and I want to search for something.

    Also, my understanding is this is at best a basic GPS, turn by turn with limited lane identification, but no real-time route updates, automatic traffic reporting, etc.

    For the casual user on their once or twice a year road trip to a popular destination, it's fine. For people who spend their l

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:37AM (#29924531)

    Maybe Garmin/TomTom will replace their current OS with Android. However, I don't see any outdoorsman/athlete tossing their Garmin device for a GPS enabled cell phone. Why? Garmin devices are purpose built, they can be strapped to my wrist, my arm, they are waterproof, I can easily mount it to the handlebars of my mountain/road bike, they have heart rate monitors built in, I can attach a secondary transponder to my dogs when they are out herding so I know where they are.

    I also love the fact that they can download maps from the National Geographic Topographic Map Series []. Now there's nothing that would stop someone from writing a android app to interface with these maps. But currently google maps doesn't help me out on the trail.

    Garmin is a brand and people buy their products for the features, nobody buys Garmin b/c of the underlying OS.

  • There are plenty of reasons that a route-based GPS is not all-encompassing (pun intended); a lot of places are not available by road, or the road ended long ago and now the GPS is saying you're essentially in a brown or green void.

    I can see that this is not necessarily ...mainstream..., but I've found that for hiking, geocaching, etc., I can use the TomTom to get me to the closest road or parking lot, and then I switch to (of all things) the iPhone 3gs for everything else, because of the compass and some ex

    • Right, now imagine having both on one device.

      Google's Satnav app for getting you to the nearest parking lot, then switching over to a Geocaching app like BlackStar for the Blackberry or Geocaching's iPhone app for the "final sprint" to the cache.

      Personally, I have a Blackberry and since I started using BlackStar I pretty much abandoned my dedicated GPS. The ability to just say "show me the 20 caches nearest to me right now" and go find one on the spur of the moment, then log it immediately - that's too com

  • Not a chance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:39AM (#29924563)

    I go hiking/camping nearly every-other weekend during the summer and even some in winter. Cell signals are poor to non-existent (when they do exist, it's never 3g) and I might have not have access to a power source for a couple days up to a week.

    Good luck with finding a cell-phone that can fit that bill.

    • Those problems aren't unsolvable. You've just laid out part of a design spec for a device which isn't impossible with today's technology. First, cell signals might not be good, so you need the option to download maps ahead of time and save them to the phone. Second, battery life is limited, and when you're far away from any power source, the cell phone eats too much power. Well you just solved part of the problem with your definition of the problem. Locations where you're far from power sources tends t

  • They can always move on to Android OS like MIO is doing: []
  • by sumbry ( 644145 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:48AM (#29924673) Homepage

    In the same way that Walmart comes into a town and destroys local businesses, Google can enter into an industry/sector and destroy most of the competition overnight by giving an application away for free. Who is going to pay $100 for a Maps Application now (or more for a hardware device) when they can just download one for free.

    Isn't this the same type of stuff we accused Microsoft of doing years ago? Yup, Walmart, I mean Google strikes again. Pray whatever industry you're in Google doesn't decide to suddenly release a free product.

  • No one is saying GPS units are obsolete. What this does say is that there will be a lot less margin in devices that are now one-trick ponies.
  • 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.

  • Will smartphones kill all the devices that are converging to them? Why stop at GPS when from clocks and calculators to netbooks (including cameras, ebook readers and music players, of course) all are possibly being replaced by smartphones?
  • Garmin makes all sorts of products besides standalone GPS. They make specialized GPS units for use in various sports. They make aviation GPS and marine GPS. And they make modules to be incorporated into other products. Most of those they've been making longer than they've been in the handheld business. They're not going to die if the handheld and auto GPS markets are severely cut into by cellphones.

  • One issue with phone based GPS units is that they go stupid when there's no cell coverage. Thats easily fixed: Just load the map database onto the unit ahead of time. My standalone Garmin has a map update that comes on DVD that fits on a 2GB memory card with space to spare. With a smartphone with 8GB+ you could easily put the whole US/Canada database on it, or just the part of the country you need.

    Garmin had this available for PDAs a while back, before flash memory was cheap. They could release a loada

  • Remember when they added DVD drives to computers, and everyone stopped buying DVD players? Good times.
    I mean, why would anyone need both?

  • Rephrase the question: Will a GPS solution that requires a 3G connection to work replace a stand-alone solution? No, at least in those areas which don't have good 3G connectivity -- like almost anywhere I'd want to go hiking, for instance. Hell, I've driven in suburbs where Google Maps on the Android didn't work, and I was forced to navigate the old fashioned way. Yeah, the article says the same thing.

    As a side note, the Google Maps data is not always correct. What Google Maps shows as the street my house
  • I doubt it will do any good while I'm out on my boat. I have a Garmin chartplotter GPS that shows marine chart information. Of course I guess there's no reason they couldn't add it, for coastal and inland waters anyways.

  • Maybe this will apply some pressure on Garmin and/or TomTom to not gouge quite so heavily for updated maps. (It's in the neighborhood of $70 to upgrade your maps the last time I looked, which makes one question whether to update the maps or just buy a newer, perhaps more feature-laden, device. Which is likely the reason for the gouge.)

    I've heard various descriptions of what the location technology in these phones is -- Recently, a fairly knowledgeable person said that "assisted GPS" meant it used cell p

  • I don't think standalone GPS is going to go away but it is probably going to drop significantly in marketshare. Between cars with built in GPS and phones with GPS options, the handheld units are going to go the way of the standalone PDA to some degree. They're useful and right now because they outperform the phone based GPS systems but much like MP3 players they are going to get increasingly integrated. There might me a small remaining market for standalone units but only so long as they can offer featur

  • Sharing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:06PM (#29924971) Homepage Journal

    My wife can take our Garmin in her car if she needs it or I could let a friend borrow it; I'm not going to lend my phone to someone to use as a GPS. Sure, I'll find it useful to have a working GPS on my phone, for like most things (camera, gps) I'm gonna go with the dedicated device for when I really need quality.

  • Imagine what will happen when the iphone will actually support bluetooth internet. garmins and other not-monthly-subscription devices can be left in the car an still have access to updates when you walk in the car.

  • Screen size (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:16PM (#29925129) Journal
    Two things are going on here. First, the availability of "free" navigation hardware/software will inevitably cut into the profit margins of Garmin and Tomtom (perhaps less in the "driving directions" market and more in the "walking around" market). Second, there is no way that cell phones can completely replace standalone GPS devices purely due to screen size issues.

    My Garman Nuvi has a screen that is a lot larger than my Blackberry Storm. I would NOT want my storm to have a screen as large as my Nuvi because I want my smartphone to fit in my pocket. However, where smartphones really do threaten a company like Garmin is in the GPS device market that covers outdoors enthusiasts. For waypoint tracking, navigation, etc while hiking I've been able to get my Storm to work really well with Trekbuddy. It isn't an idea solution because my Storm isn't waterproof or dustproof. But I put it in a plastic baggie and that works just need to buy a $350 device from Garmin to do the same thing.

    Overall it is true that this isn't good for standalone GPS makers because the competition is increasing. The demand for GPS enabled devices is increasing but the problem for Garmin is that every smartphone now has a GPS receiver built in. That offers a lot of flexibility to developers that isn't there on the standalone devices. Google is showing us the implications of this by developing an app that, almost overnight, offers a "free" alternative to a standalone.
  • ...already does this [], although, as usual for Verizon, it's completely proprietary and locked down. It works pretty well, though.
  • Probably not.

    However, Google might concievably kill the market for GPS software for smartphones - which is something TomTom and others have invested in recently.

    I'm not a heavy GPS user - if I was (and/or if I planned to use GPS overseas), I'd go for a standalone unit, for all the reasons discussed here by other posters. However, I got a HTC Hero phone, and it seemed a bit of a waste to have a GPS-capable phone with no turn-by-turn software so I bought Copilot - not perfect, but (IMHO) great value for mon

  • I have, if I can remember correctly, seven separate GPS units including two in each car (Magellan), two handheld units that are waterproof for sea kayaking (both Garmin but one has all the US marine charts and both do tracking), one stand-alone Garmin for our 1974 Carver 25-foot cabin cruiser that can take inputs from depth sounder and radar plus contains maps and charts for the entire west coast of North America (Garmin), one aviation-oriented Garmin that contains aviation charts and interfaces with my glider's computer, and one Magellan hand-held that my business used when we did a wireless ISP.

    Even though my iPhone has a very inexpensive GPS application for marine charts (with downloadable maps), and even though I often take it (in a water-tight enclosure) with me sea kayaking, it's not likely to replace the hand held waterproof Garmins because they have specialized features (trip counters, currents, etc) that are easier to access and screens made for use in bright sunlight.

    Similarly, the GPS units made specifically for aviation and marine use are not likely to be replaced by a combination cell phone/GPS. You need more than turn-by-turn instructions when flying from thermal to thermal in a glider, for instance.

    And although many late model cars come with built-in GPS systems these are expensive to upgrade and do not allow any changes while the car is moving (even by the passenger). Their screens can be fabulous but the annoyance of having to pull over and stop if something changes has made several of my friends go buy a Nuvi just so they can get the functionality they want. So all their built-in units do is track and display speed, direction, etc. The turn-by-turn is left up to the stand-alone unit mounted on the windshield.

    The biggest hurdle to mass use of cell phone GPS devices is likely to be the simple fact that 3G coverage is going to be spotty for a long time to come. Rural Oregon, Idaho, Nevada or Montana is not likely to have either wifi or 3G except along the main Interstate highways or in larger cities. And the same will hold true for many other states. Combine this with the handicap of the cell phone screen which is often too small to be seen when mounted 2 or 3 feet away on the dashboard or windshield and you will have people buying stand-alone GPS systems for a long time to come.

    But the market for the stand-alone units is likely to shrink. Pedestrians or byclists who stay in town would take their cell phone anyway and having it track their rides or walks would make them unlikely to buy one of the Garmin wrist-mounted units. And if I traveled to a large city on business I'd take my iPhone but probably not a GPS unit; the iPhone could do whatever I needed it to do with the likelihood of 3G coverage.

  • by FridgeFreezer ( 1352537 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:44PM (#29925553)
    But we go to places where there is no signal. Not just no cell signal, but no TV or FM radio, nothing. In the woods, in RF-unfriendly geographies, even SiRF-III GPS can struggle to get a lock. Also - what about planes & boats? No GSM base stations at sea, well, not without a dedicated satellite uplink. What about military apps where a mobile phone could easily be detected & targetted by the enemy?
  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @01:11PM (#29925885)

    I seriously doubt that stand alone gps can truly ever be replaced... not for gps apps/solutions that rely on connectivity.

    Perfect example: I recently finished a 6,000 mile road trip across Canada and back. Both my traveling companion and I had iPhones. We both turned off all data for the entire time we were in Canada... if we hadn't we'd have gotten multi-thousand dollar bills from Rogers Internet for data roaming. Think I'm kidding? last Canada road trip, my traveling companion didn't turn hers off. Got a call from AT&T halfway into the trip asking if she meant to be racking up $2000 in data roaming. Took us a couple days to get the pucker marks out of the passenger seat.

    (okay, I kid about the pucker marks, but not about the bill or the call from AT&T).

    Google Maps is great, but it relies on an active data connection... something you don't always have available whether due to low signal or STUPID high prices.

    Stand-alone units don't have this problem.

  • by AmericanInKiev ( 453362 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @06:46PM (#29929785) Homepage

    The most Annoying flaw in my cellphone GPS, (with which I've driven across the country) Is when I'm late to an appointment, I need to phone ahead, but can't because I'd lose navigation.

    That said, real time traffic, and weather related road outages, along with reactive routing are necessary features for a congested metropolis.

    The unconnected GPS is dead.

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