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Google's GPS Speeds Past Stand-Alones

Ubiquitous Google is out there once again speeding past anything it finds in its way on what we use to call the Superhighway! This time its taken to the gadget world by transforming their Android phones into mobile GPS navigation systems - and its free!

Motorola DroidMotorola DroidWhile the service is only available on one smartphone presently, the front-runner, Motorola Droid is favored to outdistance the stand-alone systems of TomTom, Garmin and others very soon. According to Dominique Bonte, director of navigation research at ABI Research, "why would you pay for something you can get for free?"



And at $100 to $300 each, smartphones are competitively priced with GPS units, which according to the research firm NPD Group in a NY Times report average about $177.

The same report indicated that "shares of both TomTom and Garmin plummeted after Google's announcement. Garmin’s shares fell 16 percent to $31.45 on Nasdaq, while TomTom’s shares closed around 21 percent lower on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

Garmin's Stock Price DeclineGarmin's Stock Price Decline

Others feel that Google's venture into this space will not steal marketshare for a few reasons, the TomTom Stand-AloneTomTom Stand-Aloneleast of which is safety. According to David Coursey, "for many drivers, use of a smartphone GPS while in motion will created safety issues that a properly mounted stand or in-vehicle GPS system does not."

However the following video refutes Coursey's point, as it demonstrates how Google's Droid device can become hands-free and provide turn-by-turn voice direction, similar to a stand-alone...



Google’s navigation service is part of a new version of Google Maps for Mobile, where software will work on the growing number of phones that run Google’s Android operating system. In my blog, "Crowdsourcing Goes Off Roading," Google has been developing this software since 2006, and "in addition to Google’s Android, Google Maps are also available on iPhones, Nokia/Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. As a result of the transition from desktop to mobile, many of Google’s Web-based features have migrated over to the mobile platform."

Vesa Luiro, Nokia's director of navigationVesa Luiro, Nokia's director of navigationSince Google and Nokia are rivals in the mobile phone operating system space, I asked Vesa Luiro, Nokia's director of navigation what Nokia would be rolling out in the next six months to enhance its portal features. Luiro indicated that Ovi Maps is already offering features that don't exist on Google Maps.

Of particular note, Luiro says, "is the ability to synchronize planned routes and favorites" on one's desktop and then access them later with one's mobile device.  While there is no word that Nokia will go head-on-head with Google to compete with their newly launched GPS feature, time will tell if these two rivals will challenge each other on this field in 2010.

So, while I don't suggest running out today to purchase your very own Motorola Droid smart-phone, as I think this same feature will be available on iPhones and Blackberrys in the very near future - it's interesting to note as fast as things do move on that antiquated Superhighway, Google always seems to find itself in the passing lane!

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Ron Callari
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