GPS systems get smaller

Dec 14, 2005

It used to be that in order to have a GPS system, you had to shell out big dollars on luxury vehicles. Thanks to improvements in technology, feature-rich navigation systems have become smaller, more portable, and most importantly more cost effective.

Clem Driscoll, an analyst with C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a marketing consulting and research firm specializing in GPS and wireless products and services, thinks the market is ripe with opportunity.

"Factory-installed GPS navigation systems are now available on over half the vehicle models sold in the North America. Over a million new vehicles sold this year are equipped with navigation systems," Driscoll said. "This has created greater consumer awareness of GPS navigation and its benefits. Also, an increasing number of auto manufacturers are featuring vehicle navigation in TV ads."

Driscoll added, "The leading portable GPS units perform well and the early adopters often recommend these systems to their peers. The current generation systems focus on 'ease of use,' which is very important to consumers."

Companies like TomTom, Garmin and Cobra are betting that their portable systems will be hot sellers this Christmas and beyond. TomTom's marketing campaign has increased public awareness and the coolness factor of these devices.

Garmin nuvi 660 GPS

Karen Drake, PR Manager for TomTom, said, "Consumers in general are becoming more aware of the advantages of personal GPS and on-demand navigation. They are looking for easy ways to have information readily available whether while driving their own car, a rental car or even cruising on a motorcycle. Grab and go GPS devices provide consumers with the convenience to accommodate their busy travel schedules, and in general provide improved technology vs. built-in navigation systems."

All of the companies seem to agree that ease of use is a priority for them. Dave Marsh, director of Navigation Products for Cobra Electronics, agrees. "The number one feature is ease of use. Consumers are busy today; they don't have time to read a manual, set up a complicated system, or follow special instructions to use a mass market product. Our product development effort has centered on making the most easy to use product in the category -- something that is off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box, and into-your-car," Marsh said.

If everyone pretty much agrees on what features consumers want, then what features do they feel distinguishes their products?

"TomTom's interface makes it very easy and intuitive to use, and our navigation products have great 3D maps for better visualization. The GO 300 and GO 700 feature Bluetooth connectivity and the GO 700 supports the Bluetooth connection for hands-free calling between the unit and a cell phone," said Drake.

Marsh said, "Cobra designed the NAV ONE 4500 to answer American consumers' needs and wants in portable navigation. From our research, these include a large, bright screen that is easy to glance at even if you wear glasses or you are looking at it in harsh sunlight; truly portable, fully integrated devices with no professional installation or special connections required; and a consumer-tested user interface designed for ease of use."

Everyone agrees that the future is bright for these portable systems and can see a time when they can also become entertainment centers as well. "The category will certainly continue to include Bluetooth connectivity, and we'll probably start to see additional entertainment and on-demand features," added Drake.

Marsh concluded by saying, "Since its high-priced debut over 15 years ago as an OEM-added option in luxury vehicles, mobile navigation has continued to penetrate new market segments. Scene-stealing portables have become a more affordable and approachable option. ... Overall, the market winners will be those who concentrate on the best combination of features and price."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Troy Wolverton: Fire TV needs work to reach potential

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ant colonies help evacuees in disaster zones

2 hours ago

An escape route mapping system based on the behavior of ant colonies could give evacuees a better chance of reaching safe harbor after a natural disaster or terrorist attack by building a map of showing the shortest routes ...

Freighter without crew

Apr 02, 2014

Ships of the future will soon be steered across the Seven Seas – unmanned. A new simulator is helping propel these plans forward. Partners from five different countries engineered the design of the autonomous ...

ESA to certify first Galileo position fixes worldwide

Mar 13, 2014

To mark the first anniversary of Galileo's historic first satnav positioning measurement, ESA plans to award certificates to groups who picked up signals from the four satellites in orbit to perform their ...

Recommended for you

Review: With Galaxy S5, Samsung proves less can be more

1 hour ago

Samsung Electronics Co. has produced the most formidable rival yet to the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy S5. The device, released over the weekend, is the fifth edition of the company's successful line of Galaxy S ...

Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.