Sunday, March 18, 2012

Closing thoughts on CES 2008


The International Consumer Electronics Show is a beast. 140,000 participants. Totally crazy and exhausting. It’s a hard thing to blog, unless you have a staff like Engadget or Gizmodo. For smaller sites like GPS Tracklog, making industry contacts is one of the most important things that I can accomplish. Hopefully this will pay off in the coming year with more scoops, hacks and hands-on reviews.

Too many GPS manufacturers

The GPS market is amazing. There must have been at least a hundred manufacturers at CES with their own GPS units. Most will die the same death as Via Michelin, frustrating consumers with a lack of tech support and map updates along the way. Some of these devices are lame, others have decent hardware and software (like NavNGo’s iGo solution used by so many manufacturers), but that still won’t stop them from getting trounced in the market place.

I try to cover only quality manufacturers, but I don’t want to miss up and coming players in the marketplace. Adding Mio and Navigon in 2007 worked out well. I hope to add at least one new company to my coverage in 2008.

What will 2008 bring?

Pricing pressure

We’ll see a little more downward pressure on prices, but don’t expect a total collapse. In the past two years we saw Mio, Navigon and even TomTom price units aggressively, but I just don’t see a never-ending free fall. After all, digital cameras have been around for years, yet if you want a nice but basic one, you’re still going to pay $150–200. What we will see is the continued introduction of high-end features, with things like text-to-speech, wide screens and live traffic trickling down to low end units.

Two-way connectivity

Magellan has a connected unit coming out, and Mio has one in the works. Will Dash make a splash and justify all the venture capital that’s gone into it? Surely Garmin will introduce a two-way connectivity solution later this year. How soon will we see it and just how good will it be?

Interface improvements

Mio and Navigon are going after the big boys, and I fully expect both to improve their interface with their next releases. I can’t wait to try the already announced MioMove interface.

Is convergence useful?

There is still lots of room for added utility, as auto PND manufacturers look to make their devices a major information hub. One place with room to grow is weather. Sure, we have MSN three day forecasts, but weather alerts are coming and it can’t be too long before we see radar overlays too.

Handheld revival

After a couple of years of companies focusing almost exclusively on auto units, backcountry afficionados are finally seeing attention paid to the handheld side. Magellan has the Triton, which might prove to be quite useful if the company puts some resources into firmware improvements. And we may see an updated version of DeLorme’s PN-20 sometime this
year. I can’t wait to get my hands on a Garmin Colorado, and I’m curious what’s next for this product line. The numbering of the Colorado 300 and 400 series leads me to believe that they left a little room at the bottom and a lot of room at the top for new models. The only question I have is how long it will take before Garmin makes available detailed satellite imagery for these units.

Industry consolidation and partnerships

The GPS / PND / LBS space is getting a lot of interest from major players, as evidenced by the photo below of Bill Gates. I guarantee you he didn’t drop by every booth at CES.  Look for more industry consolidation and partnerships in 2008.


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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