Europe News: Navigation highlights at CeBIT 2008

Europe News:  Navigation highlights at CeBIT 2008

While most companies now prefer to reserve their major product announcements for the Mobile World Congress, CES or CTIA, there were still some new product releases to be seen.

TomTom showcased its new IQ Routes technology, which takes into account average road speeds based on real measurements collected by TomTom users, resulting in faster routes and more accurate travel time prediction.

Garmin was showing its Mobile PC solution, which consists of navigation software and the Garmin GPS 20x sensor with USB connection. Garmin also launched the low-end nüvi 2×5 product range offering photo navigation and dynamic MSN content.

NAVIGON showcased its FreshMaps service, which provides up to twelve downloadable map and POI upgrades over a three-year period, and u-blox demonstrated how its hybrid GPS/Galileo receiver could track the (only) Galileo satellite while it was passing over CeBIT. The trend of integrating DVB-T mobile TV into PNDs was confirmed by products from Globalsat.

While consumer navigation solutions such as PNDs and handset-based navigation software were catching most of the attention, many of the smaller booths were focusing on vehicle and people tracking solutions with a high proportion of Taiwanese and Chinese companies. Shenzhen-based Menq displayed a PND with built-in GPRS-module.

In the wake of the huge consumer navigation success, companies are increasingly looking to develop new GPS products and services. Telematics is quickly becoming one of the new focus areas in both the consumer and commercial markets. Consumer applications include insurance related solutions as could be seen at the MetaSystem / OCTOtelematics booth.

Several solutions aiming at better integration of mobile consumer devices into the car environment were on display. Armour Automotive showcased its iO PLAY in-car audio streaming device which connects portable music devices, phones and navigation systems via Bluetooth technology to the existing vehicle speakers. The open connected PND platform developed by Mobile Devices allows third party developers to design customized navigation and telematics solutions. US-companies were also well represented with players such as Magellan, Garmin, deCarta and Trimble.

However, a big shadow is hanging over CeBIT. While it remains the biggest global ICT event with close to half a million visitors, the trend of the past years of increasingly becoming a consumer event seems to be confirmed. Consequently, many companies are already staying away, with more to follow as evidenced by comments collected at some of the booths. The lack of professional, business-related contacts no longer justifies their presence.

The real highlight of CeBIT was the Navigation Day @ CeBIT 2008 conference organised by Telematics Update, which mobilised a large part of the navigation ecosystem.

Via alternating presentations and panel sessions, a wide range of current navigation topics was addressed in a pleasant and interactive way.

Connected navigation, probe traffic data, mobile phone navigation, speech technology, user generated maps, location-based advertising and mobile social networking were discussed by the main navigation players such as TomTom, Tele Atlas, Jentro, deCarta, Mio, Nokia, Nuance, Garmin, ATX and NAVTEQ.

There was almost unanimous consensus among the major players that connected navigation is the way forward regardless of form factor or region.

There was also a degree of realism to be heard in many presentations. While progress has been made, real-time traffic still suffers from latency and quality problems as explained by US-based IntelliOne. Some content providers warned against providing content for free as it almost always has an inherent cost associated to it. This will create the wrong perception with consumers and ultimately destroy the content business case.

The panel session about mobile social networking and advertising made it clear new business models are emerging. SVOX and Nuance convincingly demonstrated speech technology is quickly becoming an integral part of any navigation system.

Typical for this kind of event, The Navigation Day @ CeBIT 2008 was also an excellent networking opportunity.

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