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PNDs fall with rise of GPS-equipped phones

Posted: 04 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPS? navigation market? smart phone?

Portable navigation device (PND) supremacy in the global navigation market is coming to an end as GPS-equipped smart phones are increasingly used all over the world, according to iSuppli Corp.

After several years of strong sales growth, PNDs will continue to lead the navigation market in 2009, with 114 million sets to be in use by the end of the year, compared to 57.8 million smart phones. However, by 2014, usage of navigation-enabled smart phones will rise to 305 million units, exceeding the 128 million PNDs that will be around by then.

"Previously, smart phones were not seen as a threat to the dominance of PNDs due to mobile handsets' poor battery life, unclear pricing structures and inferior interface," said Danny Kim, global location-based service analyst for iSuppli. "However, as smart phone design moves forward, many of these issues have been or will be resolved, leading to increased market share for navigation applications on smart phones."

New smart phone models are more suitable for use with navigation applications for a range of reasons, including the integration of GPS functionality, better usability, larger screens, built-in connectivity and most importantly, the flurry of applications being developed for smart phones. Other features boosting the smart phones' utility for navigation include better microprocessor support, higher internal flash memory and improved battery life.

iSuppli believes that in 2011, nearly 100 percent of all smart phones shipped will integrate GPS functionality. "These features will give smart phones similar feature sets as mid-range PNDs, making them more attractive to users," Kim said.

Rise of nav apps
Another factor driving increased usage of smart phone navigation is the launch of high-profile navigation applications from TomTom and Navigon for the iPhone.

"These new applications will make the iPhone a better match for the PNDs, diverting attention from the portable navigation devices," Kim said.

With TomTom's recent announcement, Apple now has eight navigation applications for the iPhonetwo off-board solutions and six on-board counterparts.

The initial reaction from iPhone users should be encouraging to the application suppliers.

Owing to the arrival of these applications, iPhone navigation users are expected to increase to 28 million in 2013, up from just 2 million in 2009, iSuppli predicts.

The rise of smart phone navigation represents another milestone in the remarkable story of the PND.

The starting gun for the PND market was in 2004, when the product began exceeding all expectations in growth and popularity and continued to so for several years. The year 2009 marks the dividing line when sales expansion for the PND slows as the product moves from the growth phase to the maturity stage of its life cycle.

The two major PND vendors are expected to maintain very similar market shares in the PND space into 2013.

iSuppli forecasts that the number of TomTom and Garmin PNDs in usebased on a three-year life spanwill not significantly change between 2009 and 2013. Any new growth in PND shipments is likely to come from the Asia Pacific, where past map coverage has been patchy but is improving.

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