If you are reading this site, you probably have a GPS or want one, and while my GPS has gotten me to so many places and out of so many jams, I have lost count, the GPS and its imperfect maps have led a few astray, badly astray. I heard this story on NPR yesterday and thought I would pass it along.
The story details GPS woes in Death Valley, where old forgotten roads make their way into current day GPS mapsets and then lead their users into trouble on roads that really aren't passable. Luckily, someone is doing something about it, and Ranger Charlie Callagan is working with TomTom (TeleAtlas Maps) and NAVTEQ to fix mapsets so that only real roads are shown, and old forgotten unpassable roads are deleted.
Read the Full Story at NPR - GPS: A Fatally Misleading Travel Companion, or listen to the audio version - the link is at the top of the story.
It's not hard to imagine that with over a million miles of coverage in the US, Inrix can offer data to users that makes route planning a more informed process yielding savings like that. I have found that when I use it, I tend to plan my way around major interstate headaches via local roads. Because Inrix covers so many secondary roadways, you can make informed decisions, so instead of blindly running into a jam on the local roadway too, you can see if things look better or worse.
Inrix is available on the iPhone, Android and now on Blackberry and Windows Mobile. Check out their site for details - Inrix Mobile Apps
So Garmin has gobbled up Navigon, adding some real strength in the Euro-zone to the Kansas maker of GPS devices. The financial terms were not disclosed. A couple of comments mark the occasion, and there is no doubt that this will add some depth to the offerings from both brands. So while they are keeping the same brand names (I assume for now), I might re-name the hero in Garmin's old Superbowl Monster - NaviGarmiGon, the do-gooder who slays evil maps..... heh, heh.
From the short press release..........
“We are pleased to have the Navigon team join the Garmin family,” said Cliff Pemble, chairman and COO of Garmin Ltd. “We are looking forward to expanding our ability to serve our collective customers going forward.”
“We are excited to be a part of Garmin and we look forward to turning our efforts toward integration and the opportunities ahead,” said Egon Minar, Navigon’s board member . “Navigon has an innovative new product lineup that we’re excited to bring to market in time for the holiday 2011 season and beyond.”
A few thoughts about the marriage.......
Interface - Personally, I like the Garmin interface better than the Euro-styled Navigon interface, which for me makes a huge difference. While the Garmin interface has been criticized for being to cartoon-like, it's darn easy to use and to understand.
Feature-Rich - I would argue that Navigon both suffers and profits from its flexibility and its features. They continue to offer options galore on their PND's (the last ones I saw), and offer a feature-rich iPhone application (Inrix-based traffic feeds anyone?). With options comes some interface issues, but I like the flexibility and trust the traffic flow from Inrix; Hey daily Inrix users spend one less day a year in traffic.
App - Navigon moved into the App world a lot faster than Garmin and continues to have a pretty good lead on them feature-wise. Garmin is running a close second to TomTom in terms of Top Grossing Apps according to the iTunes store on my last check, but I think that's driven by brand name recognition and not Application performance. Is anyone else having subtle issues with routing on the Garmin StreetPilot App? I am.
Product Design - Garmin has always led here in my mind with simple designs and effective mounts. The physical look, feel and functionality award definitely goes to Garmin. While Navigon pushed the design envelope early, they fell down on simple things like the tactile feedback of the power button - "Did it just go on or not?"