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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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RE: Just link it
By eagle470 on 7/15/2013 4:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
I actually bought a car with built in GPS for two reasons. One was so that no one would want to steal the GPS system. The other was because driving in downtown DC or Baltimore was a nightmare and I didn't want to have to deal with a tiny mobile screen.

RE: Just link it
By kleinma on 7/15/2013 4:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
Well those aren't invalid points, but

1) you can just put the GPS system away in the glovebox or out of view when not being used. The built in GPS is always sitting in view. Granted a standalone GPS would be a quick smash and grab, I have to imagine you would be more upset if you came back to your car and found the entire center dash removed by a more sophisticated car thief.

2) tiny mobile screen is relative. My smartphone screen is as big as any mobile GPS I have seen. I know some in car GPS may be on a larger square screen between 7 and 10 inches, but my phone is pretty large for use as a GPS. That and it talks the directions out loud, which is what I rely on more than staring at a screen while driving.

RE: Just link it
By Lord 666 on 7/15/2013 8:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
Past three cars I have purchased have the GPS built-in.

The other benefits not mentioned are;

1. I tend to keep my cars for 4-6 years, but generally swap out phones twice a year. Instead of waiting for a car manufacturer build an interface or fix the bugs, the built-in unit just works.

2. Cell phones typically require recent signal for cellular data and near the windshield for GPS. The built-in unit is at the edge of the window.

3. Today when I got into my car, it was 102. The gen 4 itouch was too hot and didn't work with the temperature warning on it. Even worse is sometimes my 2013 car doesn't connect to the touch and sometimes doesn't connect the first time with Bluetooth.

4. My 2013 car shipped with a 30 pin apple adapter. Apple ditched that interface in 2012. When i get into a car, the last thing i want to do is connect wires and other nonsense. Typically i use mass transit and do not own a car charger for my droid hd. Built-in doesn't have this issue no does it have to be charged.

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