With Maps Navigation, Google Fires Another Shot at Carriers

[qi:gigaom_icon_geolocation] Google is expanding its mobile navigation offerings with a free, GPS-enabled offering for Android 2.0 users, a service that promises to compete with the navigation apps already provided by carriers. The Internet search company held a press event on its campus yesterday to announce a beta version of Google Maps Navigation, which it bills as “an Internet-connected navigation system” that provides turn-by-turn directions as a free feature of Google Maps for mobile. The app enables users to view traffic conditions and search for businesses along their routes, and overlays Google’s satellite imagery and street photos with planned travel circuits. (How it works video below.)

U.S. carriers can’t be happy about the new service, though. While most operator-branded data offerings have fallen flat, carriers have found success with navigation offerings that generally sell for about $10 a month or are included in larger data bundles. Google Maps has been a big hit with users on all sorts of platforms — not just Android — and the navigation audience is sure to find an audience. Which is yet another reason partnering with Android is a double-edged sword for network operators.

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