Garmin announced their new Garmin Edge 200, a GPS Enabled bike computer. It 's like the bike equivalent of the Forerunner 110, a similarly "GPS Enabled" fitness computer that adds GPS tracking, but does away with the mapping capabilities of higher end devices. The Edge 200 allows you to accurately track your progress with speed, distance, time, and calories burned, and then allows you to upload the data to Garmin Connect, the growing community of GPS users who train and track their progress online.
The Garmin Edge 200 should be available just in time for holiday giving this Fall for around $149.
The Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch is 60% off today as Amazon's Deal of the Day at $149. The Forerunner 405 is a small GPS watch with a touch bezel for changing views, ability to track distance, speed, pace, calories and heart rate monitor when paired with the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor (Optional). The HRM connects wirelessly using the ANT+ technology - short distance, low power.
It is a GPS enabled sport's watch, and not a mapping deice, so while it can help you gather accurate data about what you did, and where you went, you aren't out there with a map of your community on your wrist.
With the ANT+ Stick - a USB plug, you can wirelessly sync with your computer - easy and quick.
Check out the Garmin Forerunner 405 for $149 at Amazon.
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.
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?"
I've been watching the GPS market for a relatively long time and have seen the days of 100% year over year growth in profits but those days are long gone, and you can trace that change to the start of smartphone navigation. Sure the navigation market, like almost everything, was impacted by the recession, but the downturn has been particularly sharp just as smartphone navigation ticks up. To show you how far things have slipped, at the recent telematics update conference, one speaker even joked, "When was the last time you actually used your GPS? Doesn't everyone navigate by mobile phone nowadays?"
I know I am not the first to talk about this, but it seemed particularly important in light of yesterday's earnings call with TomTom. TomTom outlined the scope of the downturn, as they offered lower expectations for earnings in the balance of the year, while citing that the US market for personal navigation devices will SHRINK by 30% this year. With over 72 million smartphones in the US market, it's not surprising that they are capturing a larger share of the navigation needs for users. (Read More at the WSJ)
Apps and more Apps - The Road to No Revenue?
Given the trend, it was certainly a good move to get into smartphone navigation apps by the big buys - Navigon, TomTom, TeleNav and others led the way, with Garmin jumping in too along the way. What is not good for them is that the average user doesn't offer much residual income. I have a half dozen navigation apps on my iPhone, and for most, I haven't paid them a cent since I bought the application. I get automatic upgrades, new maps and a pretty comprehensive feature set, why pay more? The one thing I have paid for is traffic feeds; that is well worth my money (only about $20 per year), and saves me a lot more than that in valuable time.
On the other hand, standalone devices need new maps ($59 - $79 each), or simply need to be upgraded to the newest features and capabilities.
Branded Solution Provider
With the knocks on apps already on the table, the move away from the physical personal navigation device is a smart one - people don't need an extra box when they have a smartphone. The newest telematics solutions do however offer a way for auto makers to differentiate themselves with exceptional systems; and they can more easily take the place of a smartphone - always on, always there, won't drain your smartphone battery, and the huge screens are a plus. The Ford Sync infotainment system has been hot and has driven sales for Ford, where they cite a majority of cars go off the lot with the Sync option. This is the future of in-car navigation and Ford carries a TeleNav navigation solution. I have always said that it is easy to make a GPS, but it's hard to make a good GPS, and the last thing you need is a clunky navigation solution right in the middle of your dash to remind you of how frustrating and inferior your car is.
With Garmin moving into Chrysler telematic solutions, they too have seen that taking their top-shelf solution and embedding it in the dash not only offers them a way to consumers' fingertips, but a source of sustainable revenue. My hunch is that the margins per copy are limited, but it's a smart move for Chrysler to get the Garmin quality, and it's a smart move for Garmin to help stay relevant. So while the stand alone personal navigation device is in a decline, we should see Garmin, TomTom, TeleNav and others offering navigation in other forms for a good long time.
TeleNav has been a big GPS player for a while now, but maybe not as well known as some others. They have navigation apps available on numerous mobile phone platforms, and also power the navigation for Ford - which I recently checked out at the Telematics conference in Novi, MI.
Well if you are interested in checking them out, they have a great deal on right now - try their Ap for $0.99, and if you buy the yearlong subscription, you can get it for $9.99, which is half off the regular price.
New features include:
My Mileage - track your mileage and export to excel for tracking and expense reporting
Traffic Flow Indicator - you will see the impact of traffic on your route
Upgraded look and feel on maps for easier use.
TeleNav also has a useful gas price feature that is updated daily so you can find the cheapest gas near you. Use that once or twice and you'll save the cost of the App for the year.
I recently attended the Telematics Update conference in Novi, MI and thought I would pass along some thoughts on how telematics is looking here in 2011. Recall that GM essentially started the whole thing with On Star available on one model back in the day, and now we have every major car maker scrambling to launch an interactive connected car system. With the advent of more infotainment related systems, the stodgy safety and security message that OnStar lives on has evolved to bring some genuine excitement to the future of telematics.
Intelligent navigation with real-time traffic is a top consumer demand; re-routing, learning your routes, and fully aware traffic coverage (not just highways, but secondary roads too) are all required to deliver the solution that people need. This is still THE top need in general polls, but I believe that entertainment is more likely the biggest need for younger demographics.
Telematics will evolve to be a hybrid system of full integration with your smartphone AND have its own connectivity for emergency connections. The need for users to bring a piece of their DNA into the car (that's their smartphone), and use it in that environment is too compelling. The need to have emergency connectivity is also compelling in the event of a crash - the car needs a cheap connection too. If the phone giants allow it; you'll be able to add your car to a pooled data "Family" plan.
Content and features will evolve to offer more that you need, dampened only be the fact that driver distraction is a big legislative issue, litigious issue and an evolving consumer concern. The content providers, telematics solutions providers and the auto OEM's are all in a race to deliver what consumers want. The problem is that "we" want more than is probably safe for us to have. The Line will be drawn by NHTSA in the coming years; they are NOT going to let driver distraction become a bigger issue than it already is. In what might have been the best presentation of the conference, David Strickland of the Department of Transportation said, "I am not here to help you Tweet better, I am not here to help people post on Facebook better. It's not my job." He went on to talk about how many people die each year due to driver distraction (thousands), and how a connected car environment needs to serve the driver in their task of driving. His very direct opening remarks drained the air from the room of Telematic fanboys, but as he talked about the reasons behind his fervor and how he will chart the future of safe telematics, the audience seemed to warm to his message.
Verizon presented their view of an LTE based future with huge-pipe bandwidth and streaming media. In a direct question to Janet Schijns, VP Biz Solutions about recent studies reporting on the potential for LTE to interfere with GPS signals, she craftily side stepped the issue, indicating that she hadn't seen those studies. I can't imagine anyone in the LTE area who pays attention to the business not understanding a potential barrier like the FCC having a concern over GPS/LTE interference. I don't think the forgiving audience was that tuned in to catch the sidestep.
Who was there from the Navigation Space?
Inrix was there, having won an award for best content aggregator, talking about their solutions and best-in-class traffic offerings. They are sponsoring the next telematics conference in Brazil; they aren't currently in the market in Latin America, so draw your own conclusions about their plans. They continue to show that they are powering more and more applications with their offering. With consumer needs unmet, the quality of their data and their ability to serve their audience well (reference their award), things are looking good for Inrix.
Garmin was there showing off their connected devices, their new Chrysler UConnect system; where they offer the mapping on the system behind the head unit's other functions. Garmin Also showed off a prototype capability where they control the entire dash with an integrated and changable theme across the main dash readout to the head unit. It didn't show amazing new mapping functionality in the main dash area, but instead showed off where things might go around changeable themes and holistic integration.
TeleNav was showing off their integration with the newest Ford vehicles - the New Edge and the new Ford Explorer. Telenav works in the background to offer navigation on the new ford telematics system.
Finally, Google Maps/Earth was there in a way -T-Mobile showed off the Audi Telematics solution that navigates you over a 3-D Google Maps satellite view environment with traffic overlays. It looks amazing, but comes at a data download cost. Each 100 miles you drive requires 1GB of downloads to occur from the cloud. Luckily they are cached after you drive a certain route, but man if that's a lot of data if you ever go on that cross country trip.
Fans of the Delorme PN-60W will rejoice at the news coming out of the Delorme camp about their new InReach iridium satellite-based messaging communicator. While the SPOT-based solution that was announced last year gave you SEND capabilities - useful for help messages and to allow you to post progress through the wilderness, the new system uses the iridium satellite system to give you pole-to-pole coverage with send AND RECEIVE capability.
This is one of the best GPS related innovations to come along for an adventurer in a long time.
So, if you are out there and in trouble, you can send an SOS message and receive back a confirmation that your message was received. A big relief when the chips are down.