Cell-phone Navigation Is Finding an Audience


Garmin and TomTom may need to guard their backs in the portable navigation device market. Americans are increasingly using their cell phones for navigation, according to data from comScore, which says that navigation on the cell phone as of the end of May was up 82 percent over the same period a year ago. That’s a huge rise, but still a relatively small audience of users, which means the 7.6 million-person increase in cell-phone map users had a huge percentage impact.

However, more GPS chips in cell phones such as the 3G iPhone and the Samsung Instinct, as well as unlimited data plans that make access to navigation free (Verizon, c’mon you still want to charge me $9.99 a month for this?), means consumers are likely to turn to their existing gadgets rather than shelling out $236 (on average) for a single-focused device. On the other hand, prices for said devices have dropped by a third since last year, according to NPD research released yesterday. No wonder Garmin is getting into the cell-phone business.

chart courtesy of comScore


Steve Belt

In responsign to Paul’s comment “need to integrate mobile GPS apps with calendar and contact list information to make this easier (fewer keystrokes).”

http://lifeinpocket.com free GPS navigation already integrated with address book. Support both online address book and in-phone address book, click to GPS navigate via voice instruction, click to email and click to make phone call.

What I like most is the nearby business and restaurants search. You can read Yelp/Yahoo Local ratings/reviews to figure out which one is truly good, price range, etc then click to call and click to navigate there via voice instruction.


LifeInPocket is the beat mobile phone GPS navigation I ever used. It’s free, easy to download and user friendly.
The address sync capability (with Yahoo, GMAIL, Outlook etc) allow you to use those addresses for navigation by single click.
Their Power Saving Mode makes battery life much longer.
I use their location messaging to replace text messaging which also saved a lot of money.
My family and friends have been using it for over a year since their early beta.
This FREE service is much better than all the paid services I ever used.

Rupert Goldie

Mike Puchol is right, battery life is going to become a huge issue for all the fancy new mobile apps. GPS, 3G data and running applications all draw lots of power, and at the end of the day the main reason you have your phone is to make and receive calls and SMS. This is an even bigger problem when you are travelling as access to power is harder and the communications need is often higher.

The Travel Journal application we have built at ekit tries to work around this by using cell id data collected through the network for position and SMS for messaging, but this is pretty coarse and not useful for navigation.

Mike Puchol

That would be fine if I didn’t depend on my mobile to make and receive calls, for which it needs a battery that can last at least one day. Turn on the GPS on any mobile device and watch it die in 3 hours or so. Of course you can argue that there are chargers and suction-cup stands and the works for mobiles, but it’s not exactly ergonomic to have to wrench your phone into the car and back out every time you drive around.

GPS on the mobile is really great for occasionally finding out where you are, where you are trying to get (once you are near, not 5 hours drive away), or extra information such as local cinemas or restaurants. If you want a device that actually gets you from A to B reliably, get a TomTom or similar navigator.


A photographer friend who travels extensively has found navigating using his phone a Godsend.
Once features like Loopt become more common, it would be fantastic for someone like him to keep track of his team in a foreign country.


Just spent several days navigating around foreign cities using a Blackberry and Google’s map application. Even without GPS accuracy it was a great help.

Now Google and Yahoo need to integrate mobile GPS apps with calendar and contact list information to make this easier (fewer keystrokes). Been talking about it for 10 years now… not hard, folks…

Garmin will suffer for this, but they’re a well-run company and will think of something. Not sure phones are the answer.

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