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GPS-ready smartphones to eclipse PNDs, says study

Sep 3, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

According to research firm iSuppli, by 2014 there will be 305 million GPS-enabled smartphones in use, almost three times the installed base of dedicated portable navigation devices, says eWEEK. Meanwhile, a Strategy Analytics study shows 2009 GPS-enabled smartphone shipments growing by 34 percent compared to 2008, says another eWEEK story.

The iSuppli study shows that the boom in portable navigation device (PND) sales that began in 2004 will finally begin to "steady out" this year while GPS-equipped smartphones will continue to rise, says a Michelle Maisto story that appeared in eWEEK yesterday. Whereas iSuppli pegged last year's worldwide installed base of PNDs at 86.5 million, compared to 39 million navigation-equipped smartphones, this year those totals will move to 114 million PNDs and 57.8 million GPS-enabled smartphones, says the story.

The tide is projected by iSuppli to turn in 2011, when 130 million PNDs are expected to be in use compared to 117 million nav-ready smartphones, writes Maisto. That year, iSuppli expects that nearly all smartphones will ship with GPS radios, offering features similar to midrange PNDs, says the story. In 2014, iSuppli predicts navigation-enabled smartphones in use will skyrocket to 305 million units, while only 128 million PNDs will be in use.

GarminAsus Nuvifone G60

Proprietary navigation software from PND vendors such as recent Microsoft lawsuit victim TomTomand Garmin, both of which run their PNDs on embedded Linux, are still superior to nav apps available on smartphones, while offering better voice directions and other features. In its GarminAsus partnership with Asus, Garmin is hoping that the advantage of mature, proprietary nav software will help drive sales of its navigation focused "Nuvifone" smartphones, which incorporate Garmin's software. GarminAsus' Linux-based Nuvifone G60 model (pictured above), just went on sale in Asia and should reach the U.S. and Europe in the coming months.

"Previously, smartphones were not seen as a threat to the dominance of PNDs due to mobile handsets' poor battery life, unclear pricing structures and inferior interface," iSuppli analyst Danny Kim was said to have stated. Yet, as smartphone navigation software and overall functionality improves, users are likely to opt for carrying around a multi-purpose device rather than a dedicated PND, suggests iSuppli.

"As smartphone design moves forward, many of these issues have been or will be resolved, leading to increased market share for navigation applications on smartphones," Kim added.

In addition to extending battery life, smartphone vendors will need to offer improved usability, larger screens, enhanced connectivity, better microprocessor support, and more internal flash memory, iSuppli was said to have noted. Meanwhile, the growing number of GPS-enabled applications on smartphones will further drive smartphones to eclipse dedicated PNDs, Kim added.

Three screens from the Android-based Nav4All

The Apple iPhone has eight full-blown navigation apps available now, including a new one from TomTom, says the story. Meanwhile, early Android titles have been dominated by GPS-oriented apps, with full navigation apps including Nav4All B.V.'s Nav4All (pictured above).

Strategy Analytics: 77 million GPS-enabled smartphones in 2009

Maisto refers back to another eWEEK story that appeared on July 29, reporting on a Strategy Analytics study that projected that the number of GPS-equipped smartphones shipped worldwide in 2009 would reach 77 million. This was said to be a 34 percent increase over 2008's 57 million units.

The growth is primarily driven by widespread consumer acceptance of PNDs in the United States and Europe, says the story. Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics also mentioned the increased presence of mapping applications from popular mobile vendors as driving GPS-ready smartphones.


Michelle Maisto's eWEEK story on the iSuppli navigation smartphone study may be found here, and the earlier story on Strategy Analytics' study about GPS-enabled smartphones should be here.

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