With Maps Navigation, Google Fires Another Shot at Carriers

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[qi:gigaom_icon_geolocation] Google (s goog) 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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Phil Hendrix, Ph.D.

In addition to the compelling new device + service combination, several other factors will fuel Google’s success in LBS:
1. With Street View, Google has invested heavily in compiling its own map/geodata, giving it a significant competitive advantage. Earlier this month Google dropped Tele Atlas (owned by Tom Tom) as the supplier of its geo/map data, choosing instead to use its own geodata sourced from Street View and a variety of public sources (in the U.S. for now, other countries to follow)
2. Google is in a unique position to leverage its large and growing community of Google Maps users to make corrections and updates much faster and at a lower cost. Not yet crowd sourced (see Waze http://www.waze.com/), but likely to evolve in that direction.
3. The PND OEM’s efforts to introduce new mobile devices that build on their GPS heritage are proving woefully inadequate – see Consumer Report comments on Garmin’s Nuvifone below.

These and other developments are examined more closely in a forthcoming GigaOM Pro report, Location-based Innovation – Seven Trends That Are Tranforming Mobile to be published in early Nov.

Phil Hendrix, Ph.D.

Links:
Google shakes up the geospatial data industry (http://geothought.blogspot.com/)
Mediocrity, thy name is Nuvifone (http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2009/10/garmin-nuvifone-g60-review-personal-navigation-gps-pnd-smartphone-cellphone-iphone-app.htm)
Garmin Nuvifone 2.0 – The road it should travel (http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/10/future-next-garmin-nuvifone-the-road-it-should-travel.html)

theimageflow

Does it need network connection like the maps app? That would redner it useless not only in Death Valley…

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