Nav companies falter in light of Google Maps Navigation

| October 28, 2009

Some crazy stuff is happening in the world of nav. This has everything to do with Android, specifically in regards to Verizon’s Moto Droid, which was just announced today:

The big news for the directionally challenged is the debut of Google Maps Navigation, a beta for a new voice-guided, turn-by-turn solution with 3D maps (more on that below). The new app will be integrated in Android 2.0 (which is only being offered on the Motorola Android phone for now).

Anyone can guess that this is not good news for Garmin or TomTom. But yow — this level of bad is just shocking.

Garmin, TomTom not doing so well in the wake of Google's Maps Navigation announcement

Add in the fact that the Garmin nüvifone G60, which only just debuted like 5 minutes ago (okay, a few weeks ago, at $300), is now going for the contract price of $100 at Amazon, and the prognosis for the nav industry is starting to look a little scary.

That presumes, of course, that Google Maps Navigation is really all it’s cracked up to be. Well, by all accounts — it sure is.

Google Maps Navigation offers simple searching (you can look up a business name, just like on the original Google Maps, so no need for addresses), plus voice search, traffic info, street view close-ups (that automatically trigger when you’re near the destination), satellite view (that overlays your route on top of Google’s overhead imagery), and even a car dock mode for some devices, which provide bigger, cleaner-looking icons and auto-voice mode.

Google Maps Navigation app for Android 2.0

And, did I mention, that it’s a totally free app, unlike most of the other mobile phone software programs and all of the retail GPS solutions? (For a closer look at Google Maps Navigation, click here to see a video of it in action.)

Maybe it’s too early to say “RIP, nav companies,” but this certainly looks like a potentially fatal blow. What do you think? Are there any compelling reasons why consumers should stick to traditional car GPS units, or is this the death knell of the navigation industry?

[via Phone Arena, Phone Scoop, Engadget Mobile, Tech Crunch]

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