Economic downturn favours cheaper nav form factors, says ABI

Economic downturn favours cheaper nav form factors, says ABI

According to ABI Research practice director Dominique Bonte, much of the current activity in the location industry is focused on handset-based navigation, driven largely by the launch of open source mobile operating systems and GPS-enabled smartphones with large touch screens.

The clearest indication yet of the growing importance of handset-based navigation is provided by both PND market leaders: Garmin and Asus are launching several co-branded nüvifone models, and TomTom will launch off-board navigation and is setting up a separate mobile division.

Carriers in Europe are stepping up their efforts, with Vodafone acquiring Wayfinder. Even network vendors are becoming interested, with Networks in Motion and Ericsson entering into a revenue-sharing agreement with Networks in Motion to offer navigation services to carriers in order to drive network data traffic.

A very significant trend is the availability of free advertising-funded navigation solutions driven by Jentro Technologies, which has partnered with Bouygues in France and Das Oertlich in Germany. Israel-based Locationet also offers free navigation, both independently and in co-operation with French carrier Bouygues and German directory service provider Telegate.

In the meantime, the PND market is further consolidating with Mitac having acquired Magellan and several players such as Harman, confronted with decreasing growth levels and declining margins, exiting this space. However, connected PNDs offering real-time navigation services are being launched by TomTom, Telenav, and Best Buy in the US and Europe to stave off competition from phone-based solutions.

In the in-dash navigation market OEMs are embracing partnerships to offer cheaper embedded solutions such as TomTom's and Renault's co-designed sub-$500 system, or co-marketing agreements with PND vendors like Garmin.

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