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Smartphones Versus SatNav

pocketgpsworld.comSales of dedicated SatNavs have fallen quite dramatically this year. For instance, TomTom reported their SatNav shipments were down by 29 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year. The industry is eagerly awaiting TomTom's second quarter results published next week.

Yes, the economic downturn has to take some blame for decreasing sales, but SatNavs are facing an even greater challenge. According to Compete, a web analytics firm, over 40 percent of all smartphone owners utilise their devices for turn-by-turn directions.

They also say that iPhone navigation usage weighs in with 80% usage, but those figure are very likely to include directions using Google Maps, not the turn-by-turn navigation that we're all used to on our SatNavs.

That said, it's not such a giant leap of faith to believe that this 80% figure will soon be reached for "proper" navigation when all the big players follow Navigon and TomTom's route and eventually get their feet under the iPhone table. A year or two perhaps?

This of course begs a question.

With the increase in smartphone ownership and the ubiquitous use of them for navigation, coupled with the plans of the automotive industry to increase supply of in-dash navigation, how long will it be until the dedicated SatNav reverts back to its early days as a niche product?

OK, companies such as Apple may still have a long way to go to persuade traditional SatNav enthusiasts to give up their treasured devices for an iPhone, but it looks as if it's going to be an interesting journey.
Posted by pee_cee on Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:32 pm Reply with quote

TomTom for iPhone
Turn-by-turn car navigation for iPhone is here

TomTom has made navigation available for your iPhone 3G. All you need is:

* the TomTom app including the latest maps
(coming soon to the iTunes App Store)
* the TomTom car kit that offers secure docking, enhanced GPS performance, clear voice instructions and hands-free calling, while charging your iPhone at the same time.


Posted by lbendlin on Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:51 pm Reply with quote

Let's keep in mind that the iphone usage paradigm is more targeted at the common house fly, I mean, at the quick-in-quick-out user. That doesn't seem to agree with turn by turn navigation which requires a dedicated (to the task) device over longer periods of time.


Report Map Errors here:
TomTom/TeleAtlas NAVTEQ

Posted by robertn on Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:44 am Reply with quote

Many years ago steam shovels were the only mechanical way to dig a big hole. They were made bigger and bigger, cause everone one wanted to dig bigger holes. One day, the hydraulic shovel was invented. It was too small to do much to begin with. Over time, it too got bigger. At a point in time, it was able to be made "big enuf", and within 3 years the market for steam shovels dropped by more than 90% and the manufacturer that made 80% went bust - All because the hydraulic shovel was much cheaper and 'good enuf'.
You can still buy the modern version of a steam shovel. Even now, sometimes you can't get a hydraulic shovel that is big enough.

Smartphones are todays version of the hydraulic shovel.

Gets pushed around by Thomas

Posted by houghw on Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:40 am Reply with quote

Let's also not forget that there is a likelyhood that the SatNav market might now be reaching sturation point.

Once everyone who wants a sat nav has one, the market dries up as you only sell to replace lost/broken/stolen units.

On the plus side, when we reach this point the level of thefts of such devices should start to drop too Smile

Posted by teecee90 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:57 pm Reply with quote

It would be nice if we actually had a tomtom app for the iPhone.

Posted by ollieoxford on Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:03 pm Reply with quote

There have been a number of documented issues in the Australian press of people being stopped and booked by the draconian rules on using a phone in the car - regardless of whether it was being used as a navigation device or not - quite simply as the law is currently written - it is illegal.

Now interestingly - it would appear that a dedicated GPS device does not come under the same restrictions. But then, you can still be booked for driving without due care and attention for fiddling with your radio/ipod or eating your sandwich.

There may be life in the dedicated devices yet, though I am inclined to believe we've reached saturation point - I have yet to find a sufficient reason (in North Queensland) to upgrade my old TomTom 300 that I bought years ago whilst living in England, it still does an excellent job whilst navigating around the outback.

Posted by gem on Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:40 pm Reply with quote

One burning question I have - what's the legal status?

If I hold a phone (with in-built sat nav) I will get points make prizes on my licence. If I hold my sat nav to put it on the passenger seat I get no points/fines.

So why bother with a sat nav on a phone? Sure, you can put it in a cradle but the screen is tiny and what if you want to find nearby petrol stations, would you not need to hold the phone to create that query or look closely at the answer/map? Rolling Eyes


Posted by houghw on Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:28 am Reply with quote


Ah, you've hit the nail on the head with that one...

Unfortunately here in the UK our politicians are spectacularly bad at drafting legislation these days and most of what they spew out is so full of holes that it would make a Swiss cheese maker blush but that matters not as at least they are doing something!

Our own legislation says (and I'm paraphrasing here) that it is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst operating a car and they define operating a car as any time the engine is running. So even if you are parked up safely in a lay-by with the car in neutral and the handbrake on, you are still technically breaking the law if you pick up your phone!

Ironically, it is still legal to drive down the road and mash the keypad as long as the phone is in a cradle at the time!

But that's OK we were re-assured by the powers that be... The police would not enforce the law under these circumstances... unless of course they are in a bd mood or have a camera crew sitting behind them and want to prove a point!

Unfortunately it would seem that you can either have well written legislation or prolifically written legislation and at the minute the UK politicians are erring on the side of prolific!

Posted by culzean on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:59 am Reply with quote

Until they bring out a phone with at least a 4" screen I can't see its use in a car being safe, sure it will still give you the voice instructions but you really need to see the screen (and be able to read it) as eg. 'turn left' or 'turn right' can be confusing when are roads close together and only glancing at the screen display will tell you exactly where to turn.

Save your phone application for travelling by foot, and get a proper satnav for the car.

And as people here have rightly point out it is illegal (although you would never guess it is from the amount of people openly flouting the law) to use a phone while driving a vehicle. A satnav is a positive aid to safe driving whereas a phone well, what can I say?

Posted by culzean on Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:10 am Reply with quote

We may all be using the hydraulic shovel now but you may have noticed that there are many different sizes of hydraulic shovels - from bobcats to huge monsters. You would hardly use a bobcat to build a motorway and you certainly wouldn't get a huge catapillar in to dig a trench in your garden.

Many things will have affected sales - has anyone noticed we have a recession for the last 12 months? and a satnav is really a 'I can live without it' bit of kit. Market saturation is also probably a cause of the lower sales - I have had my present Garmin for a couple of years and it does everything I need - so why spend money on a new one - I mainly use it for speed camera avoidance anyway?[/quote]

Posted by tilt on Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:41 pm Reply with quote

When riding my bike I listen to TomTom on my Palm. Its hidden I cant see it. it gives me audio speed trap warnings and directs me via audio.

I have not seen any bike borne satnav (TomTom or garmin) that could be used visually and safely (unless under perfect natural lighting conditions)when riding a bike unless the rider stopped each time to check his screen.


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