Following several days of speculation in blogs and on message boards, Navigon CEO Egon Minar has confirmed that they will “withdraw from the PND business in North America.” Though they are saying this is “for the time being,” I seriously doubt that they will ever reverse this decision. Navigon is keeping their Chicago office open, but it is unclear what level (if any) of support services will remain, or if Navigon owners will be able to purchase new services.
Navigon has been a major force in the U.S. PND market for the past couple of years. They were the first manufacturer to introduce reality view, lifetime traffic and map update subscriptions. I am especially sad to see them go now, since they were on the verge of bringing MyRoutes technology to a new product line. Navigon also helped drive prices down, bringing these new feature sets to low and mid-range models.
Coming barely a month after Mio’s near desertion of the U.S. market, this leaves us with only a handful of major players, in various states of health:
- Garmin – Clearly the market leader, they appear to be in good shape financially. Nevertheless, they have not exactly been a leader in innovation. Perhaps the ever-increasing cellular navigation market will force them to be more proactive in this regard though. We can only hope.
- TomTom – Still reeling financially from their purchase of Tele Atlas, they have been reported to have a weak commitment to the PND market.
- Magellan – Recently purchased by MiTAC (Mio’s parent company), which has shown a great ability to drive brands into the ground and flounder without direction.
- Nextar – This low-end manufacturer, fresh off a strong 2008 holiday season, may benefit more than others by Navigon’s departure from the U.S. market.
Regardless, this really isn’t surprising. Though the specific reasons may not have proven one hundred percent true, I predicted that Navigon would fold this year. The real losers in this are the consumers though, as we have fewer choices and have lost one of the key drivers of innovation in a market that has so much more that can be done.