PNDs and smartphone navigation both will have its place

Jul 2010 | No Comment

Jörn Watzke

Vice President of Product Line
Management, NAVIGON

The global smartphone market grew at exponential rates over the last years, and analysts predict very high growth in the years to come, indicating that these devices are making their way from a niche existence to mass adoption. Standard on most smartphones phones are GPS receivers, big screens and processing power that meets the standards of early laptops. These conditions are perfect for running GPS applications that turn smartphones into navigation systems. Smartphones even offer certain benefits that personal navigation devices (PNDs) do not. One example is the data connection which enables integrating live functions such as live traffic or weather updates without any extra costs into the navigation application.

Paid solutions with on-board maps, such as NAVIGON’s MobileNavigator, also do not depend on the cell phone signal for navigation. Another benefit is that you don’t have to carry an extra device and have navigation functionalities available without cell or internet service. NAVIGON’s MobileNavigator also makes use of the digital compass built into the iPhone 3GS and 4, allowing for more precise pedestrian navigation.

But will navigation on smartphones make PNDs obsolete in the long run? While future predictions of this kind are always hard to make, this scenario is very unlikely. Both will have its place in the growing demand for GPS services, and they fulfill the different needs. Smartphone navigation apps are good for a wide variety of users, but they have to be seen as complimentary to a PND. Most users who need a GPS system in their main car and on a daily base will still prefer a PND. It’s a technology that they know and are familiar with. A device that is designed for only one purpose, navigation, clearly has advantages over a multipurpose device. With screen sizes of up to five inches and higher, much better speakers as well as high-end 3D features that require a graphics accelerator, PNDs are still the best bet for those that navigate on a daily base. A Smartphone also has advantages, which make it perfect for other use cases. It is small and always with you, so you have navigation at hand all the time, for example when using a rental car. In urban areas, the pedestrian navigation comes in handy. Looking at future developments, it is also important to point out that PNDs allow the manufacturers to develop software and hardware together. Enabling innovation of the two that combine both technologies to very unique and specific navigation functions, such as NAVIGON’s Motion Sensor technology, which controls a navigation device by barely even touching it. On a smartphone, in comparison, navigation developers are restricted to what the manufacturers of the phones integrate into the hardware, limiting the development options for new features.

NAVIGON doesn’t see the emerging market of smartphone navigation as a threat but rather an opportunity for additional market segments. We are utilizing our longstanding experience in developing navigation solutions to provide top-notch personal navigation devices as well as smartphone navigation apps.

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