Sunday, March 18, 2012

GPS predictions for 2007

2007 is here, and since we just reviewed 2006, it seems appropriate to prognosticate a bit on 2007 (and beyond). Though there is not always a strong line of demarcation between the three, I’m going to break this up into three posts over the next few days, covering GPS predictions, my GPS wish list, and GPS fantasies. Today we’ll look at…

GPS predictions

2007 will see major gains in several areas:

Connectivity

Dash Navigation is leading the way here, with their upcoming release of GPS navigators that use (supposedly) anonymous cell phone data to ferret out live traffic conditions. Their challenge will be getting enough users to achieve critical mass.

TomTom already has connectivity via cell phones through their TomTom Plus services. Look for them to expand the capabilities associated with this program and push it more heavily.

Garmin is taking baby steps with their nuvi 670 and 680, but they are bound to be working on something bigger than that. The question is, what will their major connectivity play look like?

With WiMAX a ways away, and users with cell phone data plans being far from ubiquitous, GPS manufacturers are limited in what they can do right now. This is a year for them to get their feet wet and try some things out.

With connectivity comes security risks though. Look for some major holes to appear as navigation software engineers face a steep security learning curve.

Traffic improvements

While Dash Navigation may make significant progress in this area, look for TMC providers and XM NavTraffic
to continue making improvements as well. Predictive modeling,
(hopefully) anonymous cell phone data and data gathered from commercial
GPS tracking networks all have a role to play.  Look for traffic data
to get closer to real-time and a little more accurate this year.

Aerial imagery on your GPS

Aerial photos and satellite imagery will appear on GPS receivers in 2007. We know it’s coming from Lowrance, Bushnell and maybe DeLorme. I expect Garmin to get into the game this year as well.

More functions

Adding more functions will continue to be the trend. In addition to Bluetooth, MP3 players and traffic services, look for more offerings of weather via SPOT services and XM Weather, more units with satellite radio and the aforementioned aerial imagery.

Flatter units, but not smaller

The nuvi-esque flat form factor is all the rage, so look for more of these units. We probably won’t see major shrinkage in size though, due to the desire to add more features and increase screen size.

Restaurant reviews and other location-based services (LBS)

When I was on tour promoting my book,
I would tell people that your GPS will get you to the nearest ethnic
restaurant of your choice, but it won’t tell you if it’s any good. The
pieces are falling into place for this though, and we’re ready to move beyond
that now. Connectivity is going to allow more LBS and there are deals already in place for content, such as the Zagat / NAVTEQ partnership.

Handhelds

Most of the GPS market is now in auto units, but expect to see some
of the above features integrated into handhelds, possibly including
weather, aerial imagery, satellite radio and MP3 players. The latter
two are more likely to crop up on fitness devices like the Forerunner
series. Perhaps we will also see SiRFstar III chipsets in a newly revamped Garmin eTrex line.

The business of GPS

Prices will fall as commoditization continues. Look for Mio to become more prominent, and a resurgence from a newly energized Magellan (but not till the latter half of the year, as it will take time for them to recover from Thales’s neglect).

Timing

There should be some announcements about new receivers at CES
next week. We’ll be covering it here and will keep you informed. I
expect that Garmin and TomTom will roll out some auto units this
spring, ahead of the summer driving season, with a second round of
releases in the fall ahead of the 2007 holiday shopping season. Most
major handheld releases will be announced at CES or the SHOT Show. Other new releases, especially those coming from TomTom, may be announced at CeBIT.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

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