iPhone Turn-by-Turn Directions Via Subscription? No Thanks

AT&T Navigator

Hey, AT&T is a carrier, OK? They live and breath subscription models. So I don’t blame them for bringing their Navigator GPS app to the iPhone in the same manner as they do their other GPS phones. Still, no thanks.

It’s not just the subscription model, but the maps aren’t even local to the iPhone. If I’m in the middle of nowhere, can we assume that maybe I won’t have a carrier signal sufficient to get me out of there? Bad enough I have to hope for the GPS signal, but being dependent on the vagaries of a carrier’s signal in the boonies is a risk I should be able to avoid. I want my maps with me, not in the cloud somewhere.

This is what I want from a turn-by-turn app:

  • Purchase outright (no subscription)
  • Allow for in-app purchase of new or updated maps, but don’t require them, and don’t hard sell it. I see no reason to upgrade maps more than maybe once a year.
  • Maps downloaded and local on the iPhone.
  • Reasonably priced

The latter is obviously up for debate, as we all have opinions on what’s “reasonable.” Tom Tom did not discuss pricing when they demoed their app. However, one can get a relatively cheap Tom Tom device for perhaps $100. I want their app to turn the iPhone into such a device, but I should not have to pay for the hardware again. I do realize good software is worthing paying for, so I’m not expecting a 99-cent, or $10, or even $20 app. I can understand it’s worth more than that.

For me, if it’s in the $40-$50 range — and assuming it gets good reviews — I’d snap it up without hesitation. My enthusiasm will wane rapidly after that, and if it approaches the $99 mark, I believe they’re pricing it like a standalone device even though they’ve saved the cost of hardware. In other words, a rip-off.

This is especially true since Tom Tom showed a hardware accessory that will hold the iPhone, boost its GPS signal, charge it, and allow hands-free communication. This looks like a great add-on, but is all the more reason the iPhone app itself should not approach the price of a self-contained unit.

Tom Tom, in my opinion, has a chance to make a killing here by being first to market with the kind of GPS app a lot of people are looking for. I hope the bean counters don’t try to take advantage and price themselves out of it.

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