The iPhone economy, TomTom, Decarta and spare a thought for Garmin!

The iPhone economy, TomTom, Decarta and spare a thought for Garmin!

What an exciting week for location news. Since I arrived back from the Navigation & Location Europe conference in Amsterdam it’s been all go for Nav&Loc!

We’ve been hearing murmurs for a while now, but it’s finally been confirmed that the new iPhone will include both GPS (on top of Wi-Fi positioning) and 3G (plus it will be sold for a much diminished price…) Those were the features that grabbed the headlines, but let’s also take note of the new open source SDK that was announced. This will enable third party application development and essentially create an iPhone ecosystem.

**For those who have read my previous blogs, you'll have noticed my interest in tech share prices. So, here’s a very quick mention on an up and down week for Apple. It wasn’t actually all good! Share prices dropped after the announcement that Apple will end their revenue sharing agreement with AT&T. However, as you can imagine, they recovered well to gain 2.2% the day after the GPS/3G announcement. **

Anyway, the launch has inevitably fanned the flames around Location Based Services and navigation on the mobile phone. And, to be honest, why not get excited. It’s telling that GPS is essentially the USP of this iPhone 2.0 and, don’t forget, Nokia are already in full swing implementing their vision of a location enabled future.

What’s more with the iPhone SDK being opened up it seems that the LBS open source revolution is upon us! With Apple, LiMo, Android, Dash apps and even Nokia opening up their APIs a host of applications can be born.

Further to this, the channels to market are truly promising. Apple’s AppStore offers application downloads through a massively popular medium and Nokia Ovi also provides a single application marketplace.

However, LBS apps still need to make that jump from cool geeky apps to main stream must haves. But this GPS iPhone could be the major driver the LBS industry was waiting for. Coupled with Nokia’s mission to make GPS chips as pervasive as phone cameras, this year really could be the one for Pedestrian Navigation and LBS.

So, expect a whole host of innovative LBS apps to pop up on the iPhone and Nokia marketplaces. And if developers also start treating location as an enabler rather than the star of the show we could see many other applications seamlessly integrate location.

Anyway, that’s the LBS side of the iPhone launch addressed, but let’s not forget traditional navigation. With the impressive screen size of the iPhone, in-car navigation shouldn’t be a problem. And the big news at launch was that TomTom will have their navigation software available for the iPhone. A pretty savvy move… Telenav is also expecting to put forward their software.

But I couldn’t help but think of Garmin in this announcement. With the nuvifone launching in Q3 this could seriously dent expected sales. Garmin were always taking a risk by launching actual hardware into the mobile segment rather than the more cautious software approach. The market has certainly taken note with Garmin shares falling 5.8% this week.


A quick note also for news concerning Decarta yesterday. The T-mobile venture fund has invested a strategic $6 million in the leading LBS and navigation software provider. A show of support for LBS from the mobile operator?

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