Consumer navigation faces many challenges

Consumer navigation faces many challenges

While much of the debate in the consumer navigation industry seems to focus on new features such as 3D maps, multimedia, connectivity, local search, convergence, and business models, the most important issue confronting navigation vendors is how to grow navigation beyond the current penetration rate of 20% to a virtually ubiquitous experience embraced by all layers of society in North America and Europe.

"Mass market adoption will require creative thinking far beyond the current paradigms," says ABI Research director Dominique Bonte. "First and foremost an uncompromisingly intuitive and simple navigation interface will need to be designed, combined with seamless multi-mode map updates, predictive traffic information, shorter GPS fix times and a wide range of dynamic and relevant content."

Bonte says that in order to address the diverse needs of all consumer segments, a large choice of form factors and price levels will have to be offered.

Connected navigation will only be successful to the extent that it supports the drivers mentioned above, moving away from either a purely technical or a purely financial approach aimed at creating new revenue streams to stave off price erosion.

The removal of barriers such as 3G coverage and costs, lack of interoperability and user education will take time, while navigation systems will have to support (or interface with) other LBS applications such as social networking and real-time search in order to offer a richer end user experience.

Growth in developing regions such as India, China, Russia, and Brazil will be driven by digital map coverage and will be instrumental in increasing economies of scale, in turn improving the margin levels of the major navigation brands in an increasingly complex navigation ecosystem characterised by a large number of partnerships.

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