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Where is Navigation Going?

By [email protected] - 5th October 2006 - 11:20

On December 5 and 6 in San Jose, CA, navigation industry leaders will meet at Telematics Updateâs Navigation USA 2006 conference to discuss which companies will be making the most money from consumer navigation services in the long term.
Consumer navigation has seen massive market expansion in the last two years, and many industry analysts predict healthy future growth through 2010 and beyond. While it is clear that there is a market for navigation services, it is not clear which devices people will use and which companies they will subscribe to. âMore and more companies are trying to capitalize on the current navigation boom and move into the Portable Navigation Device (PND) market,â says Ven Pedro of Telematics Update âBut, if I were a PND maker, Iâd be worried right now; in my opinion theyâve had only two things going for them in the last two years â novelty and price.âBut, although top consumer electronics companies and traditional in-car system makers like Sony, Philips, Delphi and others are now releasing new PND devices, these companies may have missed the window of opportunity, and are entering into an already saturated market. In addition, there are hundreds of new start-ups releasing devices with last yearâs high-end features, such as text-to-speech and real-time traffic â at really low prices â which is not a good sign for the industryâs big players. âLong-term success in any industry is never achieved by competing solely on price,â said Pedro âPNDs are trying to overcome this by going multi-functional, which is fine as an additional benefit but is not a valid unique selling point. No-one will choose a PND instead of an iPod to listen to music.â PNDs have had great marketing and advertising campaigns, and while the market leaders are now household names, brand recognition in itself doesnât sell. The argument is that the market for PNDs is now tapped out, and there are not many first-time buyers left for these products. Will existing customers upgrade to new PNDs? Probably not; if they want a more sophisticated experience they will most likely look to an embedded system. Many people who are slightly tempted by navigation services will be more likely to try them on their cell phones than a dedicated nav device. This is why many experts agree that, going forward, smartphones and embedded systems look to be a in a stronger market position. The simple fact is that route finding is just not sexy enough for people to get emotionally involved with their devices. Theyâre not like MP3 players, video games systems and phones â when new systems are released, they are desirable not just for their functionality but also because they are cool, and because people define themselves through these devices. PNDs donât have that impact, and, if there are other ways for people to get routes for the same cost in the future, people will use them. For that reason, PNDs may well go the way of the car phone. The ever increasing sophistication of technology promises a future where consumers can have access to personal navigation solutions that far surpass todayâs systems and offer a host of additional location based services. There will be a large market for these services, and the companies that start planning their future strategies now will be the ones most likely to find their niche and capture their share of tomorrowâs market.Telematics Udpateâs Navigation USA 2006 conference has been created as a platform for visionary companies to plan for the future. To learn more about the conference, visit: Conference speakers include: DaimlerChrysler, Panasonic, NAVTEQ, Mio, INRIX, Cingular, Motorola, Spring, PTV and more.

Author: Ven Pedro


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