October 15, 2008

Ads on your GPS - Driving the Future of GPS Capabilities?

Garmin recently announced that they are offering free traffic feeds to their Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T units via small ads that come up every now and then. When using the Nuvi 755T for my Full Review, I found them unobtrusive, and a natural fit to what I was doing or where I was going; it got me thinking about where this will all lead. If you hadn't noticed, the stocks of Garmin and TomTom are down about 70% and 80% YTD, respectively indicating that the markets aren't convinced that these businesses have the growth ahead of them that we have seen in recent years, where 100% year over year profit growth was possible. With margins being where they are, GPS manufacturers may only be making $20 on each low end device, which is not a lot when you consider the work that they are doing to get such a device to the market. The idea of ad supported GPS units may offer the residual income that so many businesses seek with their offerings from Tivos to razors and satellite radios. What's the potential for GPS?

Ad Supported FM-based Traffic Feeds - Quick Ad, POI Listing


These are here now, with the Garmin introductions. Previously costing users about $60+ a year Traffic feeds give you the ability to route around traffic problems is big. I have long thought that this is a huge need that is partially met by the current mix of data feeds and low bandwidth capabilities of the FM-based TMC network (or MSN network). Broad swaths of generalized traffic trends allow good GPS units to help figure out the big problem spots. Big step up from the guy in the traffic copter. The ads are small (shown right - an ad from the Nuvi 755T) and when tapped connect you to a Points of Interest list of those stores or locations - pretty basic, but it's a start. Basic ads gives you $60 a year in value.

Intelligent Ads with Unique Offers - Daily Use

With the launch of the Dash Express this year, two way connected GPS units starbuckslogoRT.jpgushered in the wave of higher bandwidth more intelligent data feeds. With better bandwidth and better interactivity, a more intelligent ad network can be had too. Can you imagine the confluence of a few data feeds to drive targeted marketing: 1) "Home" location and zip code, 2) Frequent search topics on the GPS, 3) Current location, 4) Time of Day, and 5) Travel habit profiling - daily commuter vs. business traveler. With this information fed back to ad servers, highly targeted offers can be made, and thus be more lucrative for the GPS make

  • If you ever search for a coffee shop in the afternoons while on the road, why wouldn't Starbucks send you an ad when you are within a less than mile of their store with a coupon code for $1 off your Venti?
  • If you are a business traveler, why wouldn't restaurants start pushing ads for dinner when it's later in the day knowing that you always look for a place to eat when you are on the road?
  • When Target knows that you drive to their parking lot every other week, why wouldn't they send the latest announcement to entice you back and keep you as a loyal shopper?

The possibilities are either endless or scary depending on your sentiment, but this is all dependent on a two way exchange of data between a highly intelligent GPS, and a data crunching server somewhere. For this you'll need connected GPS. Better, more targeted ads could possibly cover the current $120+ per year annual fee for this cellular connected service. While you are at it, throw in free Map Updates once this model matures. Advanced Targeting, rich ads = Higher Value Freebies like a connected subscription and free map updates.

Interface, Interface, Interface

Like the rule of real estate where location is king, the interface rules the GPS world, and only a couple of makers are currently up to the task. I am pretty sure that Garmin worked hard to make sure that their initial offering with the Nuvi 755T and its siblings was very well thought out made to be not at all polarizing. The next step of bringing richer, more obtrusive and more informational ads will bring new challenges. With the maturation of the Web, and the serving of its ads (Think Google here), the idea of data crunching and serving up relevant ads seems like a small hurdle, it's striking that balance between obnoxious and unseen. We all hate pop-up ads on a web page, but we won't swerve off the road trying to "X" out of them while sitting at our computer desk; these can't be the norm on a GPS device. Advertisers won't pay to be unseen either. The true art will be knowing the consumer and knowing how to subtly bump them while not interfering with the navigation experience.

There are a lot of possibilities for rewards if ads are done right, and the potential to save the GPS companies from this recent slide, but ads need to be expertly integrated into the interface so that they are seamless and relevant. If they are, consumer, and businesses will benefit through better services and better offerings. Looks like a lot of fun ahead; I can't wait to see the possibilities.

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

October 13, 2008

RunKeeper - Fitness Training for iPhone - Now Going to be Free


Just a few weeks ago, I wrote up a post on tracking your runs, walks, hikes or bikes with a new application for the iPhone called RunKeeper. I got an email last night from FitnessKeeper, the makers of RunKeeper letting me know that the application was going to be free. So go check it out, and join the party tracking your fitness regimen for free with your 3G iPhone.

At iTunes - RunKeeper
icon .

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

October 7, 2008

Geocaching with your iPhone

Well it's about time that the GPS enabled 3G iPhone got out in the woods and found a little treasure! We've seen that it can go running with you via RunKeeper, and now the latest iPhone can get you into Geocaching. It's not a big surprise to see, but you'll have to keep yourself close to civilization so that you have at least Edge network coverage while searching.

Geopher Lite (iTunes Link) is a new application that allows you to access the Geocaching database to search Geocaches around your current location, and then go out and find them. The application is a work in progress with more features coming including managed Geocache lists and GPX file management. The price now is a measly $1.99; cheap. Read more at their Blog/website.


Also in the news, Groundspeak/Geocaching has let it be known that they have also submitted their own Geocaching application for consideration and review to Apple. It should be posting to the iTunes App store in the coming days. See below for a screenshot of the new application. The retail price will be $9.99.


Finally there is iGeoCacher (iTunes Link) that is a full featured Geocaching application for the 3G iPhone, which at $15 tops the list in terms of price. It is able to search by location at the Geocaching site, and by bringing up details of the Geocache, you are able to download its ket information enabling paperless geocaching.

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

October 2, 2008

RunKeeper for iPhone - Fitness Tracking Using iPhone's GPS


I came across this cool little application the other day on the iTunes store and thought I would pass it along. The RunKeeper icon application uses the iPhone's built in GPS tracking to record your fitness outings; runs, bike rides, hikes, etc. to measure performance. The simple interface is easy to use and grabs some nice stats; total distance, pace, time as well as showing you your speed performance in a bar graph to easily understand how you are doing. Another nice feature is that you can pause your run in the middle if you need to stop mid-workout for a phone call, stop light, or to tie a shoe. Of course since it's the iPhone, you can listen to your iTunes music as you go too.

Runs can be saved in the iPhone, but are also uploaded to the RunKeeper website, where you can log in and see your run superimposed over a Google Map. The image below is an example of the current capabilities. According to the RunKeeper website, future releases may include the ability to superimpose the run on the Google Maps right on your phone.

RunKeeper: icon is available for $9.99 at the iTunes Apps Store

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

July 30, 2008

Garmin drops Outlook and Delays Nuvifone - Stock Hurt

Garmin announced today that they needed to lower their outlook for the rest of the year on sales and earnings, while also announcing that they are delaying their much touted Nuvifone. For me the Nuvifone represented their move into the connected device market; maybe they will still jump into that market with a Nuvi 900 series or something. They remain the only major manufacturer without an overt and major announcement on a connected GPS navigator.

The revenue outlook really killed them today as they announced an expected $3.9 billion in revenue, down from $4.5 billion that they previously talked about. Apparently, teh Nuvifone only accounted for about $100 million of that drop; the rest is just hard times for the economy slowing down the sales.

Their stock was down 22% today to $35.19, a long way off the 52-week high of $125.

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

July 14, 2008

TeleNav: iPhone 3G Navigation

Well, it didn't take long to hear more news on a true navigation package coming to the new iPhone 3G after it's well publicized launch this past week. It seems that TeleNav is working on a new application for the iPhone that will give true Navigator functionality with turn-by-turn directions, visual cues and traffic alerts on the new faster iPhone with a true GPS chip.

The GPS-like applications currently in the iTunes Apps Store are no true navigation applications and the Google Maps interface on the iPhone is better at showing you what to do while walking and not driving down the road at 50 MPH.

TeleNav website; more on TeleNav here at GPSLodge.

Via Twice

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

June 24, 2008

Apisphere & Traffic Cast Team Up - Location Aware Future

Apisphere and Traffic Cast teamed up to continue to grow a robust offering of location aware living that will no doubt start to shape how we look at navigation and the role it plays in our lives.

Data/Environmental Awareness - Traffic is not the only thing to consider when we need to get somewhere, but it's the easy one to understand. Got to get to the airport, traffic is slow, leave early; easy to understand. Traffic Cast will be providing this pretty big component in this deal.

What about the fact that what you really need to get on the 5:15PM flight back home? There are a lot of things that impact that; traffic, time needed to return the rental car, the normal security line length, as well as the fact that your airplane is coming from Atlanta and they have thunderstorms going on there right now; your inbound plane is already 30 minutes late; delaying your flight..... All of this needs to be projected into the future. I don't want to keep checking this information for data right now; I need to know what time I need to leave the meeting this afternoon to hit the airport.

Yes, I'll take this on my iPhone now thank you.

Press Release below....

ArrowContinue reading: "Apisphere & Traffic Cast Team Up - Location Aware Future"

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

June 10, 2008

iPhone with GPS - TomTom on iPhone?


So, unless you were under a rock yesterday, you probably heard that the iPhone 3G finally came out and is coming out with a real GPS chip inside. No more fake triangulation junk from cell towers to approximate where you are. The interesting development is that with the developers pack, GPS software makers are jumping on board too.

TomTom said yesterday that they are already running software, "Our navigation system runs on the iPhone already," said a TomTom spokesman, according to Reuters. No word on availability. This may come as a surprise to some folks, but it shouldn't be knowing that TomTom does a decent little business on the side for PDA navigation. Repurpose the code, and go. My guess is that for $149, you'll be up and running.

There are also other rumors that has the Dash navigation software loaded onto the iPhone too, which would put a very connected experience into the hands of iPhone users. The advanced traffic capabilities would be a plus.

Car Mount? - Oh, yes, you will need a car mount, but they are already on the market.

A concern is the power supply, and the loudness of the verbal directions - the speaker phone is hardly loud enough to cover road noise, but the Bluetooth earphone might just be a great way to hear those turn by turn directions.

Can't wait to try this out... gonna have to upgrade.

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

May 23, 2008

GeoTagging Pics with iPhone 2.0

The folks over at CellFanatic have posted some news about the upcoming iPhone software release that will allow the iPhone to geotag photos taken with its camera. So the whole thing relies on the not-so-good GPS wanna be triangulation capabilities that the original iPhone has. By triangulating or just dead reckoning using cell and wifi signals it can offer a guess as to where you are. In my experience, my iPhone has me in a radius of about half of downtown Boston which is a pretty big swath of area.

The new iPhone which is supposed to be announced in June, should have a true GPS, eliminating the current patch job of location based information.

CellFanatic says...

"While the iPhone lacks the dedicated GPS receiver most of us desire, it still does an adequate job of positioning through cell towers and this capability has now been passed on to the Camera application which presents the user with a pop up window stating, "Camera would like to use your current location". By selecting OK at the prompt, the location data will be pulled from the Maps Application and 'use your current location' in order to deliver the appropriate tags to identify the location the photo was taken. "

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

May 15, 2008

Garmin Mobile for Blackberry - $99 Lifetime

Garmin announced a pretty good move today offering Garmin Mobile to the Blackberry crowd for a $99 lifetime fee. The deal offers Garmin maps and a Garmin interface streamed over the network for your GPS enabled Blackberry. Turn by Turn directions will get you there.... all while giving you gas prices, weather and traffic.

Very much targeted at the traveling business type, the unit should be pretty popular with road warriors, or the growing legion of consumers who are heading out to their kid's games on the weekend tapping away to friends.

The $99 lifetime fee is a new move from the usual monthly fee or daily/one time use fees on a lot of other navigation plans.

After the Nuvifone, and launches like this, clearly Garmin has figured that they need to be a part of the mobile phone navigation market.

Press Release follows....

ArrowContinue reading: "Garmin Mobile for Blackberry - $99 Lifetime"

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

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