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Automakers are shifting from $2000 nav systems to smartphone-connected methods

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have posed serious threats to many different industries. For instance, many people don't bother with landlines because of their smartphones; some gamers have stopped paying for expensive consoles/games and opted for game apps, and those who don't want to make a trip to the bookstore can download the entire thing on their device right from home. 

Now, the auto industry's dashboard navigation systems are seeing mobile applications as a threat to their profitable business as well. Many automakers offer pricey embedded navigation systems that run anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Navigation apps found in app stores for the iPhone, Android-powered smartphones, Windows Phones, etc. typically cost a few bucks, or are even free. 

Which do you think consumers are going to opt for?

While auto navigation systems offer beautiful graphics and larger screens, they have their faults. Aside from expensive prices, a lot of these systems run on pre-made DVDs instead of the Internet. This means that they don't run real-time updates, and to have this software updated means a time-consuming trip to the dealership.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, are cheap (or free) and are Web-based -- meaning that any changes to your surroundings while driving will be updated almost immediately. 

Tim Nixon, chief technology officer of General Motors' OnStar service, noticed his son using a suction cup to stick his iPhone to the windshield while he used a free maps app. Ouch. 

This has led GM to consider a new model: a $50 map application for iPhones, which will display directions on the dashboard touchscreen of a Chevrolet Spark.

"We've historically had these on-board, embedded nav systems," Nixon said. "That's just not going to cut it anymore. The game has changed and the bar has been raised by these always-connected devices that bring fresh information into the car."

It looks like other automakers are looking to make their navigation systems compatible with smartphones, too. Ford said that smartphones and navigation systems alone aren't "perfect solutions," but together, they could be.  

An undisclosed Japanese automaker has even paired with Waze, which is a free social GPS app that has turn-by-turn navigation to help drivers avoid traffic, and is also a community-driven application that draws information from drivers ahead of you, and even learns from users' driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It was acquired by Google last month for $1.3 billion. 

Ventures like the one with Waze could one day lead to technology where car systems will report weather to the app based on usage of windshield wipers and other features. 

Automakers should probably start taking the mobile devices seriously, since J.D. Power reported that 47 percent of drivers used a map app on their mobile phone last year -- which is an increase from 37 percent in 2011. Also, 46 percent of car owners with an embedded navigation system said they wouldn't buy one again if their smartphone app could be synced with their dashboard displays.

Source: Automotive News

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A little biased?
By Jaybus on 7/15/2013 3:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
Some misinformation in here. Real-time updates? Trip to dealership to update software? Not sure what is meant by real-time updates. I guess that the map info for the current location is downloaded? Certainly not that the maps are kept up to date in real-time. And at least with Ford Sync, software for the whole system is downloaded onto a thumb drive from the internet, then the owner plugs in the thumb drive and runs the update. No dealer required.

The map update comes as a DVD, but the map data is installed to hard drive, pretty much the same as a Garmin. Much better to have the map data on internal hard drive than relying on always having a signal.

Also, much better to have the large in-dash screen. Much easier and safer to view quickly than a 4 inch cell phone from 3 or 4 feet away.

Any way you cut it, it's the poor man's nav. Also, I want the in-dash for the audio, climate control, voice command, backup camera, etc. stuff anyway, so why not add in nav?

If they really wanted to improve things, they would allow tethering so the in-dash system could have internet access. Problem solved.

RE: A little biased?
By fic2 on 7/15/2013 4:42:08 PM , Rating: 3
One of my brother's friends bought a used car with a NAV system and wanted to update the maps. Dealer wanted $350. I told her to go buy a Garmin LT model for $125 and have updated maps for the life of the device. Much cheaper.

This was several years ago so things in the auto NAV area might have changed but since most builtin NAV systems sell for $1-2k I doubt it.

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