April 22, 2008

DeLorme Earthmate PN-20 - Skis the Arctic

Ed Viesturs will be setting out on the 2008 Canadian Arctic Trek for Earth Health with a Delorme Earthmate PN-20 in hand. The PN-20 is a WAAS-enabled, bright-color-screen handheld receiver capable of displaying multiple map and imagery types. He will have it outfitted with a customized mapset that has detailed TOPO maps and landsat images of the terrain he expects to cover as he skis 150 miles across Baffin Island on a trip that is designed to raise awareness about climate change.

More information on this trek and the long list of accomplishments can be found at Ed's website. While more information on the Earthmate PN-20 can be found at DeLorme, where they are also having a Spring Sale.

More on the expedition follows......

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 9, 2008

Low Priced GPS: Keep Competition at Bay

bagomoney.pngIt wasn't too long ago when new brands blew onto the market with low priced GPS options while the big guys maintained high prices and probably maintained a lot of profit. On Black Friday 2006, while others were selling GPS units at twice the price, Mio stormed onto the scene with a $149 little unit, the Mio C310x that put them on the map. Since then Mio has launched upgrades, and currently has its Mio C230 as its entry level unit.

Last year on Black Friday, Navigon stole the show with the low priced Navigon 2100 that shipped with traffic subscription for $99. The Navigon 2100 is still around and shipping like crazy when it's on sale. How's it doing at the regular prices though?

A recent check of the Top Selling GPS Units at Amazon tells us a lot:

#4 - Garmin Nuvi 200 - $149
#5 - TomTom ONE - $146
#22 - Magellan Maestro 3100 - $129
#30 - Navigon 2100 - $160 (without traffic)
#34 - Mio C230 - $134

Even with a $15 - $20 discount, the Garmin and TomTom units are outselling cheaper competition, keeping them at bay.

With prices like these it's no wonder that the big guys are doing well on sales, and the others are not. For a long time, when GPS systems cost a healthy chunk of a paycheck, it was worth saving 20% by going with something other than a big name. Now it's increasingly tougher to get meaningfully cheaper than a $149 price point that the big names are holding right now.

The trouble is that TomTom and possibly others aren't making the money that their investors want them to. So something is going to change, or has to change if they want their stock price to go up. That change could be a small shift in costs that allow an extra $10 to be made on each unit, which would more than make up for the lower margins recently seen.

Smaller companies are finding it increasingly harder to get a firm grip on the entry level end of the market, while big names are finding it harder to earn money at this end of the market too, driven by aggressive price cutting.

Tough on GPS makers and their stock prices, good for your wallet. With all of that said, I fully expect a $99 special out of the big guys for Black Friday 2008.... see you there.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

April 7, 2008

Delorme Earthmate GPS LT-40 & Street Atlas 2009

DeLorme announced the release of its Earthmate GPS LT-40, a next generation GPS for laptop PCs. The LT-40 features the STMicroelectronics Teseo chipset for superior signal acquisition, retention, and positional accuracy, even in challenging urban GPS environments.

This launch also debuts Street Atlas USA(r) 2009 DVD mapping software, for family and everyday use, and the more feature-rich Street Atlas USA 2009 PLUS DVD, aimed at business and advanced users. In addition to the U.S., each also covers Canada (street-level detail) and Mexico (main roads).

More at Delorme

Press Release Follows....

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 3, 2008

TrafficCast Bringing Data to Mobium

If you are familiar with the idea of aggregating traffic data then you'll recognize what TrafficCast is doing. They recently announced a deal with GeoMicro to get their real-time traffic data as well as historical speeds onto consumer based applications. Previously available to professional drivers, the capability is poised to be the must-have feature for high end GPS navigations systems.

Press Release follows....

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 18, 2008

GPS Market in US Explodes in Q4

GPS World Magazine has a good write-up on the GPS market, its developments and some of the critical numbers coming off the big fourth quarter in 2007 which saw cheap GPS deals at every major Black Friday player, and out of stocks online for days as people scrambled to get one of the hottest gifts of the year. While total year shipments jumped 148%, Q4 shipments jumped over 400%. While that's a lot, and there were 6.7 million sold in Q4, there's still plenty of people without one. A couple of key points below, check out the whole article for more information on the US market and the growth in the Asian Pacific markets as well.

Canalys estimates that around 6.7 million PNDs shipped in the United States in Q4, representing 55 percent of the total for the year. In Q4 2006 the figure was below 1.5 million, showing just how much the market has grown and the extent to which the United States, once tiny compared to the European market for such devices, has become a major arena for the many competitors in this industry, Canalys observed.

Looking at the market for all mobile GPS navigation devices (which includes smart phones that have integrated GPS and an activated on-board solution), Canalys puts market leader Garmin's share in the United States in Q4 at 47 percent, almost exactly where it was a year earlier. Garmin is followed by TomTom at 21 percent Magellan at 17 percent and then Mio Technology at 6 percent -- the top four hardware vendors have more than 90 percent of the market. A year earlier they had 80 percent between them.

Via GPS World

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 13, 2008

Royal Expedition GPS - Typewriter Not Included


We used to have a Royal typewriter when I was a kid; didn't get much use though. Those days are long gone and Royal has moved on to Consumer Electronics. They are releasing model the Royal Expedition GPS. Fairly standard unit with maps of US and Canada, 2 million POI with phone numbers of businesses, and a standard 3.5-inch screen. No Text-to-speech on this model, sorry. The Clunk-a-licious design isn't going to win any contests though.

More at Royal

List price is $399, but it better not hit the shelves for that much. We're seeing widescreen models hovering around $200-$249 from the big guys.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 12, 2008

RoadTour - UK Audio Guides for your Garmin


Going to the UK soon and want to tour the country with your Nuvi? Roadtour has audio tours that work with your existing UK maps on your Garmin to give you the option of hearing about the local sites. The package works by highlighting key highlights within a radius around you, and by tapping on the icon, you pull up a short audio history of the site, along with hours and prices if available. If you would like, you can have the Garmin play an audio tour of a local site within a certain radius of you as you drive along. Once the tour is done, you can navigate right to the site by tapping the icon. They seem to have thought of a lot; if you need directions from Garmin in the middle of a mini audio tour, the tour will stop, the Garmin will deliver the directions and the audio tour will start again. Pretty good.

They have several packages to choose from, including Heritage sites and Pubs & Inns:

ROADTOUR Heritage covers 600 of the finest castles, historic buildings, residences, country houses, gardens and monuments, throughout the UK. It includes those belonging to all the main UK heritage organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage as well as many private establishments (see full list of locations). Each one has a 1-2 minute audio description covering history, interesting stories and architecture.

ROADTOUR Pubs and Inns - Sawday's have a great reputation for superb guide books and their well established Pubs & Inns guide has received rave reviews (read reviews). After years of research visiting thousands of pubs, they have handpicked 900 of the best in England and Wales. Each entry is accompanied by a vivid, characterful description and most include pictures and also icons which give useful information such as child friendliness, quality food and available real ales.

Roadtour packages are available as downloads, as CD ROM's and on an SD card; costs are fairly reasonable too starting at under £8. Installation instructions are on their site.

More at RoadTour

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 29, 2008

TwoNav - On Road and Off Road Navigation

This just in ahead of CeBit 2008 is a cool idea that has seen a few entries already with the Magellan CrossOver and the Lowrance XOG, but this one looks better designed to take with your instead of just sitting in the car.

The unit will be available in Europe, and has the ability to navigate on roads much like other GPS units with verbal turn cues, and automatic route calculation. Off road, the 3-D maps (Not true Topo maps- which are available as an option) come with the unit and allow you to navigate like any handheld unit.

No hard launch date for the US, but I would imagine we're on the list.

More at TwoNav

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 22, 2008

Excellent Customer Service for GPS

With GPS prices coming down, more and more people are getting on the GPS bandwagon. The thing is that with more sales come more questions, and Customer Service and support for the device becomes critical. This is where companies either shine or die. I have always had a good experience with Garmin support, getting a live person at or near their Kansas headquarters who knows what I am talking about and I find that they can still teach me a thing or two about a GPS even after all these years. Response time over email is also fast.

TomTom has good service too. They got battered around a couple of years ago for poor customer service, but have changed their entire approach, brought a lot of improvements to the system and even got an award last year for customer service excellence.

Both Garmin and TomTom support their models, software and maps with regular updates to the operating systems and to the maps available for purchase.

DeLorme Excellence

I stumbled across a post on The Consumerist that highlights another customer service story that I think puts DeLorme in the same class as Garmin and TomTom for customer service. The short story is that someone bought one of the DeLorme PN-20 handhelds from Amazon, got the older version and DeLorme immediately sent the updated software after a quick and friendly call. The person takes off for a trip and leaves the USB cable behind, not allowing him to update the maps while on the road; what's DeLorme do? Overnights a USB cable as a result of the trouble he has gone through and the situation he is in. Those folks in Maine seem to know how to do things right. If you're ever on your way to LL Bean in Maine, stop by DeLorme and see Eartha, DeLorme's massive Earth globe in their lobby.

Read the whole story about DeLorme Customer Service Excellence at The Consumerist.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 19, 2008

The 17 Pound Military GPS

The Land Warrior program is an effort to develop advance information systems that can be used by infantry personnel on the line and in combat. Among other things, the unit offers a GPS as well as realtime maps of targets with indicators of friendly troops and messaging systems that allow communication between troops in short message real-time format. The unfortunate thing is that many of the features go unused, and the thing weighs 17 pounds, which on top of the other equipment that they carry, has to be a tough burden. Maybe that's why a lot of troops are buying their own handhelds before deploying.

"It's like a 17-pound GPS unit," said a Soldier assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, the first Army unit to ever deploy to a war zone using Land Warrior. "We don't use half the things it's supposed to be able to do."

[From Military.com]
Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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