In 2002, one of the first portable GPS satellite navigation units was launched, the TomTom Navigator, this started the popularity of the Sat Nav, rendering maps almost useless. As GPS got more advanced more people bought Sat Navs and the price dropped significantly compared to when they were first launched.
Despite their popularity, Soon portable satellite navigation units may no longer be needed, today’s phones are becoming bombarded with extra features and most now come with turn by turn directions, also more cars are coming with Sat Nav as standard or as a cheap optional extra.
It was revealed that 39% of adults own smartphones, this figure may not seem like much, but this is an increase of 12% over last year and as time passes more people will own them and more phones will come with turn by turn directions as standard.
Price is also a concern because smartphones can now be had for around the same price as high-end sat nav systems; the average Sat Nav system sells at around £100, but for the same price you could purchase a Nokia Lumia with some of the best maps and turn by turn guidance on the market.
What will companies like TomTom and Garmin do? Of course they will still have the commercial side of GPS systems, but their sales and profits may not ever see what they did before, TomTom have made the move of selling their maps to Apple to use, possibly sealing their fate.
But I think it’s not over yet for Sat Nav giants like TomTom and Garmin, although smartphones mostly do a good job of navigating, none of them are as extensive as Sat Navs. IOS was highly criticized because of its low quality and inaccurate mapping software that was released last year with IOS 6, large towns were shown as fields and farms were shown as airfields.
Most smartphones are yet to gain the functionality of re-routing according to traffic and none allow you to choose if you want a route according to economy, distance or speed as most modern Sat Navs allow. Only Android users are given the option to avoid routes with tolls or motorways. Simple things like this mean that the Sat Nav is still a popular product.
Personally I use my phone a lot for navigation, but still keep my Sat Nav close; mostly because the use of large apps like the navigation app on my smartphone uses up so much battery. I think that although people won`t have the exact same problem as me they will still prefer using a dedicated portable unit for small reasons like this, and like the map they both may be rendered useless, but never forgotten, and like the map they may still be used for a long time yet, by many people.