Phones supplant satnavs for directions

The days of supremacy for the portable navigation device (PND) in the global navigation market are coming to an end with the rise in worldwide usage of GPS-equipped smart phones in the coming years, according to iSuppli.

After several years of strong sales growth, PNDs will continue to lead the navigation market in 2009, with 114 million sets to be in use by the end of the year, compared to 57.8 million smart phones. However, by 2014, usage of navigation-enabled smart-phones will rise to 305 million units, exceeding the 128 million PNDs that will be around by then.

“Previously, smart phones were not seen as a threat to the dominance of PNDs due to mobile handsets’ poor battery life, unclear pricing structures and inferior interface,” said Danny Kim, global location-based service analyst for iSuppli. “However, as smart-phone design moves forward, many of these issues have been or will be resolved, leading to increased market share for navigation applications on smart phones.”

iSuppli believes that in 2011, nearly 100 per cent of all smart phones shipped will have GPS functions. “These features will give smart phones similar feature sets as mid-range PNDs, making them more attractive to users,” Kim said.
Another factor driving increased usage of smart-phone navigation is the launch of high-profile navigation applications from TomTom and Navigon for the iPhone. “These new applications will make the iPhone a better match for the PNDs, diverting attention from the portable navigation devices,” Kim claimed.

Apple now has eight navigation applications for the iPhone—two off-board solutions and six on-board counterparts. Owing to the arrival of these applications, iPhone navigation users are expected to increase to 28 million in 2013, up from just 2 million in 2009, iSuppli predicts.

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