GeoCarta Has Moved

Mar 11, 2007

Navman's Holloway on the Future of the Portable Navigation Device

Stuart Dredge at Tech Digest recently interviewed Navman's Colin Holloway on the future of the GPS portable navigation device (PND). Not surprisingly, the main topic was the threat posed to PNDs by GPS-enabled mobile phones:

Q: Is mobile a threat to your core business though, if people start navigating with their phones rather than with standalone PNDs?

Well, if you look at Canalys’ data, they predict that in two years PNDs will still be 80% of the market. I do think the smartphone side will take off, as you’ll probably find people like Vodafone and O2 giving away GPS with their devices.

That said, there’s no question that things need to be fit-for-purpose. I’ve used lots of smartphone solutions for GPS, and while it’s great having an all-in-one device, there’s the odd occasion where you really wish you had a dedicated device. Say you’ve got a GPS signal coming into your smartphone, and at a crucial turning your mate rings, and you’re left wondering whether to turn left or right!

What I think you’ll find in our market, is people will have GPS on one device, like a smartphone, so they can go into London on the train, flick the GPS on and navigate to wherever they’re going on foot. But when you’re in the car, you’ll want a bigger more fit-for-purpose device, with a larger screen and speaker.

Q: If it’s hard to differentiate between different PNDs now, how do you see them improving in the future?

The first thing is design. Look at what’s happened with mobile phones like the LG Chocolate and Motorola RAZR. Design is very important in the sales for these products, and you’ve seen that in the evolution of our product too, with slimmed-down devices like our N40 and N60.

So Navman appears to be pinning its hopes for the future on people desiring not one, but two PNDs; one in their phone, and one in their car. That, and really cool designs for their PNDs.

See also: So Long to Stand-Alone GPS Units?
Free Maps for Your Cellphone
GPS Everywhere