Monday, 21 May 2012 17:39:55 Europe/London
Monday, 14 March 2011 16:28:05 Europe/London
POLL: What is the Future of GPS?
I’m surrounded by equipment that knows where it is. My phone, iPad, and heart monitor. The new POV camera. The latest Timex. A personal Lojack to tuck into your backpack. And then across my desk comes a press release came across my desk from Garmin, maker of the gold standard in GPS. Even though sales increased 15 percent in the outdoor market, the company’s most recent fourth-quarter earnings dropped in half. The reason? Smartphone navigation is eroding the demand for stand alone GPS units.
Garmin doesn’t see that trend ending soon and has warned Wall Street to expect continuing weakness in personal navigation. Meanwhile, it’s focusing efforts on integrating GPS into devices like its terrific Edge 500 cycling computer and hoping that the currently small (£90 million in 4Q sales) portion from outdoor gains ground quickly on the foundering dashtop segment (£340 million in 4Q).
Not that long ago, the standalone GPS seemed like the killer device. But then manufacturers scrambled to add traffic, weather, streaming radio…and in Cupertino, Apple was doing the same thing, but better. And so now if you’re an outdoor person who wants electronic navigation assist, you have a myriad of choices, from the iPhone and Droid to dedicated units from Garmin, Magellan, and others. Do you carry GPS and leave the waterphobic phone at home? Rely on the battery-sucking phone and save the money you’d spend on GPS? Use the phone GPS in the car and an outdoor-specific GPS on the trail? Unless you eschew technology altogether, there’s no easy answer.
So, that brings us to this week’s poll: