Cell Phones and PDAs-Tomorrow’s Navigation Systems

Aside from commercial or marine applications, most global positioning systems (GPS) are installed in cars–helping people get from point A to B while driving. But a new breed of navigation systems is about to change this as millions of consumers will soon get driving directions via their cell phone or PDA. Navigation systems are most often sold as original equipment by the auto makers. They typically include a color screen in the center console that provides maps and turn-by-turn driving instructions. These systems also provide voice output so the driver can keep their eyes on the road while driving.

But vehicle navigation systems are costly options, and customers that opt for these features are typically buyers of luxury cars or high-end SUVs. According to a TRG/Metafacts Consumer Survey, 61% of navigation systems go into luxury vehicles.

But a new class of systems–called PNDs (for Portable Navigation Devices)–is about to make these features very affordable. “These portable solutions offer almost the same functionality as in-vehicle navigation systems, but at a fraction of the price,” said Phil Magney, TRG’s principal telematics analyst.

With entry prices starting as low as $300, portable navigation devices come with color displays and removable memory cards. They function much the same as the OEM-fitted solutions–often using the same map database providers. And since PNDs are portable, they can be taken from car to car – a big advantage to consumers who would not want to limit the use of a navigation system to one vehicle.

The PND category actually evolved from Pocket PCs, as they are about the same size and feature similar hardware. In fact, most Pocket PCs or PDAs can be turned into navigation devices when connected to a GPS receiver. Similarly, some cell phones (a.k.a. smartphones) can be converted into navigation devices–obtaining map and traffic data “on-demand” from central servers.

According TRG reports, in-vehicle navigation system sales are projected to top 8.5m units this year, while portable navigation devices (PNDs) will come in close to 8.2m units. By 2011, TRG expects annual sales of in-vehicle navigation systems to exceed 20m units while PNDs should exceed 100m units.

About TRG:

TRG (Telematics Research Group, Inc.) tracks and analyzes the OEM and aftermarket for automotive electronics and telematics. TRG conducts a global telematics survey of wireless, navigation, digital entertainment and driver assist technologies. TRG’s research is used as decision support by the automotive and electronics industry. TRG was established in 2001 and expanded its operation in January 2004 with the formation of TRG Europe, GmbH (Sindelfingen, Germany). Telematics Research Group Inc. (TRG), Minnetonka Phil Magney, 952-935-0400

Visit TRG here.

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