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Summary:

While today might go down as the day the Droid took over, it’s just one handset. Oh, it’s a sweet handset — one that has me tempted to get a new Verizon account — but at the end of the day, it’s just one handset that […]

While today might go down as the day the Droid took over, it’s just one handset. Oh, it’s a sweet handset — one that has me tempted to get a new Verizon account — but at the end of the day, it’s just one handset that will have the spotlight until the next great handset hits. The bigger news in the long term is what comes with the Droid, and other Android 2.0 phones in the future: the free Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0.

I’ve watched the above video demo — and I’m boldly going to make a prediction. Google has trumped just about every other navigation service on the phone and will own a majority of the portable GPS  market within two to three years.

Yes, it’s that good. Why?

  • The service leverages the cloud and Google’s massive search information. No need to download or purchase maps, POIs or any other updates.
  • The easy voice search doesn’t require a specific POI or address. You can search for anything in simple terms, just like you can with a regular Google search. Example in the video: “navigate to the museum with the King Tut exhibit in San Francisco.” If you don’t know which museum it is, how will a standalone GPS device know where to look?
  • Street view and satellite integration adds an extra touch that competitors just can’t match easily. And I can see the value of each because I’ve had some doubts when told to make a turn. Having a view of exactly what I should see is fantastic.
  • Google is clearly working with the hardware vendors. The new Verizon Droid, for example, is built by Motorola and can use a car dock for the Maps software. When placed in the car dock, the phone intelligently knows to use “car dock” mode for easier navigation and button presses.
  • The navigation service is free, aside from any data charges from the carrier. Essentially, you’re getting a superior standalone GPS as a free bonus with your phone.
  • Android is on a huge upward growth path. Early predictions for 2012 are over 75 million Android devices sold — and most, if not all of them, are likely to offer this navigation software. Those numbers have to hurt if your a personal navigation device maker.

I’m not trying to play down the Verizon Droid launch here. The phone looks incredible and if I didn’t already have two monthly phone bills, I’d likely be snapping one up. Android 2.0 combined with great coverage is a potent combination. But I don’t want to overlook the long-term and bigger impact of what Google has done for navigation today. Simply put — they nailed it at the same time they put a nail in the coffin of the existing GPS market.

  1. WOW.

    I purchased Motion X GPS Drive for my iPhone exactly one month ago today which requires renewing a subscription each month for $2.99 (or thereabouts). I’m very pleased with that app but if GM comes to the iPhone I’ll use that instead.

    So not only has Google hammered the GPS hardware companies but also the folks writing apps.

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    1. i think that Google’s going to just keep juicing up Android for the next few months but im pretty sure they wont leave iPhones out. I cant wait for Android 2.0 to come out for the Eris so i can get this!

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  2. I don’t have a smartphone so I will continue to use my TomTom. But isn’t one of the big problems with smartphones (maybe just the iPhone)? that the data link is slow especially in big cities with lots of other people doing the same thing?

    I’d rather not have my GPS stop working when I am exactly where I need it most (in a dense city or in the countryside).

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  3. Stop! You don’t need to say any more….you had me at “Google.”

    I’m getting this and getting it soon! Glad I am already a Verizon customer.

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  4. Like Bobman, I wonder what they do when you’re driving outside of coverage. I wonder if it caches ahead for you when you ID your route.

    I think this is nothing but trouble for the Garmin’s of the world.

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  5. We are back to application based devices, I don’t think apple will be getting this update :)
    and when Google wave starts, wow, Google will run our life, all we need to do is connect and let them manage our life.
    Think about all the services you now use with Google, and now imagine a world without goggle, that is scary

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  6. Kevin

    I agree with your prediction with 2 additions:

    1) some type of map caching becomes a must to truly outclass standalone options

    2) car integrated bluetooth in new cars is needed so that you are adding a GPS not losing a phone while driving

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  7. It was only a matter of time. I was expecting this when I first heard about Android 1.0. (Granted, I was expecting it in a stand-alone GPS device.) I just wasn’t expecting it this soon because I thought there were real-time navigation licensing issues with NavTek. I guess they were either: A) ironed out; B) worked around; C) expired; D) non-existent (rumor).

    I’m already planning on getting the Motorola Droid through Verizon (my new every two has been available since April). The question is _when_ as I’ll be leaving the country on Nov4… (I’m praying that the Oct30 rumor is confirmed instead of either the Nov6 or Nov9…)

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  8. Other sites have already reported that it caches the data along your route to deal with dropouts in coverage. Dont know if that means the whole thing or just the next few map tiles, but its a good sign they’ve already thought about it.

    Also, if you havent played with the latest Google Maps apps with layers supports, you can already do a bunch of neat stuff. Built-in layers for traffic overlays, wikipedia data, and Latitude. But the killer feature is My Maps. So if you create a map in your broser and save it in Google Maps, that info can auto-magically show up on your phone. I can see a dispatch office plotting stops on Google maps, saving it, and the drivers get the stops immediately on Google Maps on the phone. Its the hidden secret in the layers functionality that almost nobody has looked at yet.

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  9. I agree this is huge news. I am ready to replace my Storm with Verizon, and I was going to go with the HTC because it is smaller and has the Sense UI… but this looks so incredible that I just have to make the leap to the Droid. Google is going to save me 15.00 a month to Verizon by allowing me to get rid of VZnav and Visual Voicemail (thanks to the Google Voice VM routing they announced yesterday).

    Looking forward to the year of Android.

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  10. I already dumped visual voicemail on my Storm and switched to Google Voice voicemail. Can you say awesome? I knew you could :)

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