The two major smartphone developers, Google and Apple, recently unveiled new navigation capabilities, which could make portable and in-dash GPS navigation devices obsolete. Earlier this month, Google announced a new interface and features for Google Maps, including the ability of Android users to download maps offline. More recently, Apple also announced new mapping and GPS navigation features for the upcoming iOS 6. When Apple made their Maps announcement, Garmin’s stock dropped close to ten percent. Certainly, portable navigation devices are still useful, but the trend suggests that smartphones may soon render them obsolete.
“We’ve been competing successfully with free navigation on Android phones, and through third party apps also on the iPhone, for a couple of years now,” a representative from Garmin told Wired.com. “We think that there is a market for smartphone navigation apps, PDNs [Personal Navigation Devices] and in-dash navigation systems as each of these solutions has their own advantages and use case limitations and ultimately it’s up to the consumer to decide what they prefer.” It is reasonable to assume that high-end vehicle manufacturers, such as BMW, would continue to include built-in navigation systems for their luxury vehicles. Their customers expect, and are willing to pay big dollars for, the latest technology. The problem here is that smartphone navigation tends to evolve faster than the systems that are built-in, sometimes months or years before it’s sold.
Previously, in-dash and portable GPS navigation devices held an advantage over smartphone apps, both in reliability and features. However, these smartphones can now provide Yelp integration, turn-by-turn, voice-guided directions and so much more. “We’re using anonymous, crowd-sourced, real-time traffic data from our iOS users,” explained Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS at Apple during the keynote. Now that the smartphone can help you navigate the roads with just as much information, it’s hard to justify owning both a smartphone and a dedicated navigation system.