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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 DiggsNC on 7/15/2013 7:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
The GPS is an amazing tool, but so is an Atlas. Both have their place.

I was glad to read your reply since I have seen people also completely at a loss to read a map. While with the tech we have today, I can see why many find it old and foreign, there are times when it is better.

The girlfriend and I took a trip through the South West a couple of years ago and she (much younger than me) brought a big Rand McNally Road Atlas along. I wondered why she would bother. We both have smartphones and I had a Garmin as well at the time. I was later very happy she brought it. I was amazed at all the small parks and some larger State parks and smaller roads that were in the Atlas there were NOT on any of our GPS devices.

The ability to get an overall picture of the area and what was in that region allowed us to plot much better routes for sight seeing than if we had relied solely on the GPS.

Again, I am a HUGE fan of my GPS apps on the phone, but we use both whenever we travel. They are both tools, one is old and not as hip as the other, but it still has some usefulness. For metro driving, sure the GPS is going to win. But get out where there is little to no data service while site seeing over a large area. You will be surprised how handy that Atlas can be.


RE: Just link it
By JediJeb on 7/16/2013 6:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree with this, and not just for trips out in the open like that. We still get calls from delivery people who can not find our building in the industrial park using GPS. We have been here almost ten years and still GPS and Google Maps sends people to the other side of town when they put in our address.

It doesn't matter how up to date the app is, if the info they have is not correct. GPS apps are pretty good in major population centers but not so much in rural areas. Drive to my parent's house and the GPS apps will tell you the last five miles you are driving through a field, but the state highway and county road you are on has been there for 50 years. Every paper map I have looked at has them, why can't the GPS and online maps get it right?

My uncle has GPS in his tractor trailer and uses it most of the time, but he still swears the best way to find obscure places in big cities is to simply ask a cab driver.


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