Personal Navigation Devices to Lose Their Way Among Smartphones?


garmin-nuvi-travel-gpsPersonal navigation device (PND) sales will grow “at an anemic rate” over the next five years before giving way to GPS-enabled phones, according to an In-Stat report published today. The total semiconductor market for PNDs will surpass $1 billion next year before beginning to decline, In-Stat said. Much of that growth is expected to be driven by connected PNDs that can deliver information such as gas prices and local weather, but manufacturers will have to lower their price points and offer innovative apps if they’re to compete in the superphone era.

While I’m a big fan of mobile phone navigation apps, there is a lot to like about stand-alone navigation devices. Dedicated gadgets typically offer larger screens and more simplified layouts, making them easier to use on the go, and they don’t require a user to choose between making a call and accessing location information. And subscription-based services that leverage 3G connections not only allow service providers to deliver information updates at will, they also enable users to access relevant web-based content such as traffic information and travel tips.

But the price points for dedicated devices are simply too high to compete with mobile phones — especially in a tough economy. Modern smartphones (and even lower-end handsets) typically include GPS functionality, and carriers have wisely begun to package navigation offerings with data plans to introduce them to consumers. There is a ton of opportunity for players that can add value to navigation via user-generated content such as real-time traffic reports and travel reviews, but for the most part, those opportunities will be realized via apps on mobile phones — not through stand-alone devices. When it comes to delivering navigation information to mainstream users, the battle is quickly shifting from the hardware to the applications themselves.



I can’t see giving up my standalone for a smartphone anytime soon, but I guess time will tell. Like you say in your article its all about the screen and layout, and what I want on my phone is never going to be the same thing I want in my GPS. I use the Garmin eTrex Summit (its about halfway down the page here: ) and if my phone had a layout like that or even a screen that big it’d be pretty hard to use.


This is a valid argument if stand alone dev on Nav only devices stays at a stand still. Its all about convenience. As Khristal so succintly put it her GPS still holds the ease of use crown. Phones have to do so much more than just a GPS that it will be quite possible for stand alone devices to remain competitive with the all-in-one competitors, at least for a little while. The only time this changes is when Battery technology becomes such that you can run mobiles for days on end between recharges and GPS reliability is ubiquitious.

Rupert Goldie

The biggest problem with using your phone device for everything is battery life. I don’t care that much if my MP3 player goes flat. My GPS device running out of power could be a bit annoying. But I really don’t want my phone flat for the rest of the day.


I have no sympathy for single purpose, dedicated hardware – good riddance!


I have Both and I love my GPS navigation handheld better…. My phone is always a pain and I cant do as much as I can on my handheld navi. Or maybe I have a sucky phone! lol

Tom B

iPhone (or the like). ONE device, in your pocket. Reasonable price point (excluding connect fees, of course).

It’s now a data battle; the fuller map/gis/location-awareness mojo, the better.


Smartphone navigation (or ebook reader, etc) vs standalone = almost good enough.

To paraphrase a wise man ” Call me when you’re ready to compromise.”

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