Drivers: Who Needs Costly, Embedded Navigation Systems When We Have Mobile Apps?
July 15, 2013 2:21 PM
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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,
, Windows Phones, etc. typically cost a few bucks, or are even free.
Which do you think consumers are going to opt for?
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.
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RE: two sides to every story
7/16/2013 2:03:01 PM
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.
Let's clarify a couple of things here:
1) If you're talking about the PURE GPS signal, then you are correct, THAT in and of itself does NOT consume any data. However, if you did that, it would just be a dot on either a white or grey screen, which while true, probably isn't very useful.
2) To load the actual map which puts said dot in context though, THAT uses data. GPS by itself does not contain any map data (not inherently).
(And yes, I have actually done that before, so that's how I know that that's how it works).
Now, having said that; A simple map load for the local area on an iPhone 4 with iOS 4.1 with Google maps is about 1.8 MB. A lot? A little - that's all relative. (My home network puts 500 GB of network traffic, but that's besides the point). At $6/MB, even several MB of data become VERY expensive VERY quickly.
At $5.83/month over 72-months for my in-car nav system, you can quickly see how limiting that $6/MB is going to be if I were to use nav/GPS on my phone.
Even if you get the $0 iPhone 4 (for example) from Verizon (also for example), the cheapest 2-year plan is $40/month for the access fee, and then $40/month with 300 MB.
On the other hand, if you buy the phone outright say from Virgin Mobile USA for just under $300, their cheapest plan is with unlimited data is $35/month, which means you'd need to use at least 6 MB/month to balance out the plan cost, and you'd be 42% of your way to paying for the in-car nav when you purchase your device.
The nav unit might remain static during the lifetime of the vehicle, but my nav is on an SD card so if there are updates, Ford either sends me one or they distribute to the dealerships which can then be distributed to me either at my next oil change or whatever.
It's a longer lifecycle than say the phone-based nav/GPS, but for the purposes of looking SOLELY at the nav/GPS portion of your phone - seriously - how often do you really need to update your nav/GPS device?
(If you're updating/upgrading your phone because you want a new phone for the phone features, that's a separate discussion. And if you either ONLY do 3-year leases (because you DON'T (and most people don't) drive 40,000 miles/year), or that you always short your 4-year leases and renew early; then pretty much you can time your cell phone upgrades with your car upgrades, which kinda makes the whole "static in-car nav" point moot.)
And if you work for an automotive OEM and you get company vehicles (like employee/corporate lease or developmental leases), there's a VERY high probability that you will be changing cars faster than you can change phones, which makes that point even MORE irrelevant. (Granted, most people AREN'T vehicle engineers or work for an automotive OEM); but there are advantages to the in-car nav.
Unless you end up with an 8"-diagonal cell. ;o)
RE: two sides to every story
7/16/2013 2:20:36 PM
"Now, having said that; A simple map load for the local area on an iPhone 4 with iOS 4.1 with Google maps is about 1.8 MB. A lot? A little - that's all relative. (My home network puts 500 GB of network traffic, but that's besides the point). At $6/MB, even several MB of data become VERY expensive VERY quickly."
Correct, it's small as in a few megabytes. That is an insignificant # for any standard data plan (2gb is very standard). If you are paying $6 per MB you need to change your plan RIGHT NOW because you are being scammed to a horrible extent.
RE: two sides to every story
7/16/2013 2:23:02 PM
Also, your figures are the cost of a phone and plan... No-one is suggesting you go buy a smartphone and data plan for GPS. The "jist" of this article is most of us already have that and use it, therefore buying a car with an additional 2k for GPS is pointless as its 100% free in our existing phone/plan.
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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