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Are Dedicated GPS Units Becoming A Thing Of The Past?

by Sean P. Aune | September 15, 2010September 15, 2010 2:00 pm PDT

It certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise to many people, but it seems that all of those nifty maps and applications popping up on smartphones may be bringing about the demise of the dedicated GPS unit.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Garmin Chief Financial Officer Kevin Rauckman spoke about the current state of the company’s smartphone line, the nuvifone. Currently the phone is not living up to their expectations and only generated $27 million in sales in the second quarter of this year. While they are hopeful about turning the division around, they are ready to cut their losses and run.

garmin-880What is more interesting than the phone situation, which really isn’t a factor in the smartphone business, is what is going on with the company’s popular line of dedicated GPS units.  While it seemed everyone and their brother was buying one in 2008, Mr. Rauckman estimates that the industry has missed out on the sale of five to ten million units so far this year to people using turn-by-turn directions on Android phones and GPS apps on the iPhone.

And it isn’t just Garmin that has been hit, since Google’s announcement of new navigation abilities on smartphones last Oct., TomTom shares have lost 57 percent of their value.  Garmin is fairing slightly better at a 27 percent loss.

Garmin’s saving grace at this moment is that other companies shrink and die, its share of the market is growing, but even Mr. Rauckman estimates that the size of the market is going to shrink by five percent per year over the next several years.

This just speaks more and more to the desire of consumers for convergence amongst their devices.  People no longer want to carry a phone, an MP3 player, a PDA and a GPS as three separate devices, they instead want it all in one handy little package.  Personally I still prefer the dedicated GPS just due to the size of the screen and not having to switch through numerous screens while driving.  Will I buy another one when my current unit dies?  Probably not, but I’m going to try to get as much life as I can out of the current one.

What say you?  Have you already said good bye to your GPS unit?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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