January 6, 2008

Connected GPS Unit Roadmap - The Next Generation

With the recent announcement of Magellan joining the ranks of connected GPS makers with their announcement of the Magellan Maestro Elite 5340 + GPRS, I thought it was time to take a step back and look at what's going on in the next generation of the GPS market and see how things are shaking out.


There are four main benefits of having a connected GPS:
1. Map Updates can be gathered from and sent down to the fleet of GPS units.
2. Operating system updates can be sent down to the unit
3. Traffic reporting is enhanced due primarily to the increased bandwidth and flexibility of the cellular network, and the fact that you are now a "traffic condition probe", collecting data for others to use.
4. Connected search and interactivity of the unit to the internet to provide a more intelligent device.


Where did it all start and what's the product map look like?

Dash Navigation
Announced their plans for the Dash Express back in September 2006 letting the world in on their apparently well patented idea of connecting a GPS to a cellular AND/OR WiFi network to update the device and connect you to the world. They have the ability to update the system through your own WiFi at home or any open WiFi that you are near; pretty opportunistic to take advantage of the high bandwidth to pump down the millions of map changes that happen monthly. Also, because of the two way connectivity, you are now acting as a data probe, sending back traffic conditions for others to use. If someone else hits a traffic jam, their unit sends back conditions, and you know that there's an unexpected back-up further down the road. Somewhere along the way they realized that their device needed some updating and did a re-design, which cost them many months, and in hindsight, made their announcement to the world a little premature. Their units are available for pre-order now.

Date of Announcement - September 2006
Market Launch - Q1/2 2008
Cost - $599 + $10-$12/ mo.
Map Provider - Tele Atlas
Traffic Provider - Inrix
Map Updates - Yes
System Updates - Yes
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search + Other Applications - Yahoo! Local + Others

TomTom
TomTom recently announced a rollout of the TomTom XL HD in the Netherlands, that includes cellular connectivity and a more advanced traffic updating system. They will send down updated traffic conditions, and will also be able to use you as a traffic probe, making for hundreds or thousands of GPS unit traffic reporters.

They are also set up to be the new owners of TeleAtlas, so I would imagine that they will figure out how to pump down map changes to the units too. Their MapShare system that allows for users to input map corrections into the device and share those corrections with others. I fully expect (hope? and pray for?) that their request for Beta testers in the US is based on testing this new capability. If this is true, I would expect an "HD" rollout by summer in the US.

Date of Announcement - November 2007 - for Netherlands, Europe in 2008.
Market Launch - Nov 2007 (Netherlands)
Cost - $588 ($399 Euro) + ~$15/mo (12 mos included in price of unit Netherlands)
Map Provider - TeleAtlas
Traffic Provider - ?Inrix?
Map Updates - Most Likely
Operating System Updates - Most Likely
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search - Maybe

Magellan
Magellan just announced their 5340 + GPRS device joining the fray of next generations devices, and I expect a lot of smart design out of them. Magellan is good at putting on consumer needed ancillary services and features, like the Help functionality that tells you where you are and where the closest emergency help is, and "AAA" data information, offering guides and in-depth assessments of POI. My concern is that their interface is dated, and that a major upgrade is needed to take it out of the Atari look and feel camp and bring it into the X-Box 360 camp. The partnering with Google continues on this trend of smart enhancements wrapped around the navigation experience. The price is a little staggering, and makes Dash's $599 look cheap. Let's hope the technology rolls own to lower priced units.

Date of Announcement - January 2008
Market Launch - March 2008
Cost - $1299 + ~?$10/mo?
Map Provider - NAVTEQ
Traffic Provider - ?traffic.com?
Map Updates - Most Likely
Operating System Updates - Most Likely
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search - with Google


Garmin
Garmin has NOT announced a next generation GPS yet, but I expect that they will follow soon and not leave this segment untouched for the rest of the GPS world to play in without them. Garmin has taken up a seemingly regular pattern of coming to the market as a fast follower with a more complete offering that fits with the consumer just a bit better than some other manufacturers. For instance, with voice recognition, Magellan and TomTom announced and launched voice controlled units in the latter half of 2007, but their capabilities are limited to you saying commands in a known situation, like a street name in the address dialog. Garmin has just announced their version that has expanded capabilities on the Nuvi 850/880 units, which allows you to simply interact with the GPS for natural speech commands, like "Find Italian Restaurant" as you are on a map screen. An improvement over the other units, but a delay in market launch. My experience in consumer goods taught me that there is an incredible first mover advantage, but that a superior product launched later with other strength factors (i.e. a 50% market share), can make up for the delay.

Date of Announcement - Estimate Spring 2008
Market Launch - Summer 2008
Cost - Est. $700 - $1000 + ?$10/mo?
Map Provider - NAVTEQ
Traffic Provider - ?traffic.com?
Map Updates - Most Likely
Operating System Updates - Most Likely
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search - Potentially Microsoft (Expands the partnership already established with the MSN networked units)

Nokia

After a couple of email exchanges with one of our regular readers, Jim, who offers a lot of insight on the traffic front, I feel the need to add Nokia here. With their recent deal for NAVTEQ, they are clearly positioning themselves for more mobile phone location based services and navigation, but they can't miss the billion dollar market right under their noses in the stand alone GPS world.

Being Euro based, I am concerned about the "Cultural Adaptation" of the interface for the US, but fully expect that they can figure out how to connect a GPS over the mobile phone airwaves; I mean it's Nokia, they make mobile phones! The hurdle here is the interface though; the more complex you make a system, the higher the hurdle gets to make it friendly and easy to understand while driving down the road at 60 MPH.

Date of Announcement - Unknown
Market Launch - Unknown
Cost - Est. $700 - unknown, but in line with higher end of market at time of launch.
Map Provider - Ah, Themselves (NAVTEQ)
Traffic Provider - Again, themselves (Traffic.com/NAVTEQ)
Map Updates - Most Likely
Operating System Updates - Most Likely
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search - unknown


Stay tuned for more fun with Next Gen GPS units!

Read More in: Dash News | GPS News | Garmin GPS News | Magellan GPS News | TomTom GPS News

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Came straight to this page? Visit GPS Lodge for all the latest news.

Posted by Scott Martin at January 6, 2008 10:25 PM

Recent Comments

Could a side-by-side comparison matrix (table) be built with the options/information for each GPS using the information, above? This sort of matrix is standard faire in most review periodicals. A table listing each GPS, possibly broken down between high-end, mid-range, and low-end cost, or focused on a specific feature, would be quite helpful.

For example, the information for each device listed above looks like:

Date of Announcement - September 2006
Market Launch - Q1/2 2008
Cost - $599 + $10-$12/ mo.
Map Provider - Tele Atlas
Traffic Provider - Inrix
Map Updates - Yes
System Updates - Yes
Enhanced Traffic - Yes
Connected Search + Other Applications - Yahoo! Local + Others


It seems to me GPS Lodge has the expertise to pull this data together.


Posted by: Rob B. at January 11, 2008 8:49 AM
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