Sunday, March 18, 2012

2010 GPS predictions

Crystal ball Despite the relative success of my 2009 predictions, I hesitate to forecast anything this coming year. The GPS navigation market is in flux, undergoing a major shift from PNDs (personal navigation devices) to cell phones. That change, in itself, is fodder for multiple posts, but it also makes this the most difficult year yet to forecast. But hey, at the risk of playing the fool, here goes…

Auto GPS

  • Manufacturers will respond to the marketplace dynamics with a bevy of new features; many will be useless fluff
  • At least one US manufacturer will release a PND with mobile TV
  • Garmin will move towards innovation and become more of a leader than a follower
  • Garmin will release more connected PND models
  • PNDs will continue to be hot sellers, due to the following factors:
    • Price declines (though they will slow)
    • High-end features creeping farther down the product line
    • People wanting a better user interface or larger screen than that available on smartphones
    • People who don’t want or need a smartphone, or don’t want to pay for a data plan (there’s a possible niche market here for connected PNDs with email, like the rumored nuvi 1800 series)

Mobile phone GPS

  • Remember all those horror stories about GPS leading drivers to disaster? Expect to start hearing quite a few from users of Google Maps Navigation 
  • Google Maps Navigation will improve dramatically in terms of features and accuracy of road data; usability will still lag behind PNDs
  • Prices will quickly fall for navigation apps and car kits as commoditization takes hold of the mobile nav market, just as it has with PNDs
  • RIM will create a free nav app for BlackBerry, with crowdsourced traffic, based on Dash Navigation’s technology
  • Location based services will move closer to the mainstream, picking up a wider audience
  • Meanwhile, augmented reality apps will remain the domain of geeks
  • Garmin will release a ruggedized Android phone (though perhaps not until early 2011)

Handheld GPS

  • See the last prediction above, under mobile phone GPS
  • Magellan will release a new touchscreen handheld line
  • DeLorme will introduce the PN-60; I expect that it will have a larger, perhaps touch, screen
  • Garmin will introduce an Oregon model with pre-loaded topos and City Navigator
  • Garmin will introduce a Dakota model with pre-loaded topos
  • Garmin takes on SPOT with a GPS receiver featuring a personal locator beacon (recycled from my 2009 predictions)

What do you agree or disagree with? And what are your own GPS predictions? Drop a note below.

About Rich Owings

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


  1. oohhh… Nicely done! I don’t see the mobile TV showing up here, unlike in Europe and Asia. Otherwise almost 100% agreement with your predictions. Add one more: Garmin will roll out their new routing/map correction/very TomTom-like (but improved/reliable – LOL)desktop software and website shortly after announcing the 18xx’s.

  2. Forgot one more. Traffic Patterns will appear on the Garmin’s with the 18xx’s

  3. Rich Owings says:

    Hope you’re right on both accounts. I would love to see Garmin embrace those features.

    I think the challenge with nuvi desktop trip planning software has to do with licensing issues and NAVTEQ POIs. That shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle though.

  4. Max Bramel says:

    Always a pleasure to view your informed opinions, Rich. I note the irony that your last prediction about Garmin bringing out a GPS/personal locator combo may have succombed to the innovation thing with the apparent DeLorme/SPOT collaboration to announced at CES.

    Sure hope you’re right about the PN-60. I know that DeLorme would like a larger screen and they are interested in touch capabilities, but they want to maintain their standard of screen clarity. They also have to balance the power needs of larger screens and dual processors with battery life. With the low-power quad processors we see in today’s laptops, I hope some of that technology makes it into 2010’s handhelds.

  5. Rich Owings says:

    Thanks Max. Yeah, I saw Tim’s DeLorme leak, but this was already set to go, so I didn’t change it. You’re right on target with your comments about trade offs re: screen size and touch capabilities. And DeLorme already has a reputation for short battery life. I guess we’ll learn more about some of this from CES next week.

  6. Peter Fine says:

    Garmin will release a successor to the Edge 705 with many of the improvements seen in the Edge 500.

  7. Prediction or tip?

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