Google recently announced that the new Android 2.0 operating system will be able to provide live Google Maps Navigation. This will be able to provide turn-by-turn directions, automatic re-routing and 3D street level views. Tom Tom beware!
This is a serious threat, Sat-Navs, especially those provided by Tom Tom, the market leader should be worried. When this news of the Google Maps Navigation was announced, Garmin’s Share price dropped by 18% and Tom Tom’s by 13%.
The Google Maps Navigation will have search and local based services, designed to give the best routes and also provide information on local restaurants, hotels, and places to go. It will also have live traffic updates to help speed up your journey. Another major feature of Google Map Navigation is has put an end to the yearly updating of maps on your Sat-Nav, Google Maps will be sent directly to the phone over the phone network, eliminating the need to remember to keep your maps updated.
This is seriously worrying for Sat-Nav providers as what Google are offering with Google Map Navigation will be provided for free, eliminating the need for someone to buy a standalone Sat-Nav. Sat-Navs are fighting back though as they already have more advanced features such as the ability to tell the driver which lane they need to be in order to travel along a guided route. This is something that mobile phone map providers, especially Google Map Navigation, have not managed to handle just yet.
One problem Google needs to face in order to get the Google Map Navigation in to the mass market and make it user-friendly, is to consider the technology that is used in Sat-Navs and its size. Sat-Navs are traditionally larger than GPS enabled phones as they have more ability to provide accurate information due to the technology within the device. The Sat-Nav has to be larger in size in order to accommodate this.
Google have made a real head start and bringing usable maps to the mass market for free is a huge step, one which will leave Sat-Nav providers quaking in their boots. But Google Map Navigation has a long way to come. It needs to ensure the hardware that enables the maps to be read easily on a phone, the hardware needs to be small enough so it can fit in to the slim design of new phones. No one wants to go back to the 80s.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.