Skip to content

Garmin and TomTom facing competition?

Engadget things the PND manufacturers has some competition in the new generation of cell phone devices.

As everyone knows, Garmin and TomTom have their backs against the ropes in a fight to remain relevant in an age of free GPS turn-by-turn navigation on smartphones

I don’t think it is the devices nor even the software that is providing the competition, it is the maps.

If you have a dedicated PND (personal navigation device) and want to keep its maps up to date, you are talking about spending more than $50. You can buy a current atlas at WalMart for under $10. You can use one of the many I’net mapping services for free.

Maps for the PND are like Gillette’s razor blade idea. Give away the razor and make your money on blades. The printer folks have got this idea, too, as they’ll sell printers sometimes for less than the cost of replacement toner or ink cartridges. The problem is that the cost of maps (and printer supplies) is pushing people’s idea of what is reasonable. Competition is coming from novel directions to meet the demand.

That is one area where Garmin seems to have an edge on its competition as it appears to have a more mature developer community. Worldwide routable Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap  provides a method that has the potential for providing what TomTom is doing with its user map sharing idea. Creating Custom Topo Maps for a Garmin GPS provides a means to enhance your PND maps based on government data. Then there’s  GMapToGPX which helps integrate Google Maps to Garmin PND routes.

Another consider is that this field of GPS devices and geographic information systems has a long ways to go. GPSBabel: convert, upload, download data from GPS and Map programs  has a very long list of file types used in the field that it will translate. A promising sign is that there is a trend towards XML structures with a fairly well defined set of fields.

The competition isn’t the cramming of PND capabilities into a cell phone on top of general I’net utility, it is in the maps.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.