14 June 2008

Is the GPS industry at risk?

Slate asks whether the new G3 iPhone threatens to kill the GPS industry. I don't think they understand the full scale of the industry - they'd probably be surprised to see the ancient handheld GPS receiver at the Smithsonian (below). But then Slate qualifies it as the "portable GPS" industry. Isn't pretty much all GPS portable these days? What good is GPS on a tripod? What they really mean is that they think that the navigational units are at risk. As they point out, the GPS industry has gotten big enough to take sriously:
Portable GPS devices have quickly gone from high-end curiosities to mass-market devices. In-car location trackers were the hot Christmas gift of 2007, and research firms estimated late last year that revenue would hit $50 billion in 2008 and $100 billion in five years. So far, the main benefactor has been Garmin, a GPS manufacturer that by most estimates commands more than 50 percent of the industry's American market share. The company posted record revenues in 2007.
The iPhone won't destroy this industry. It will make it ubiquitous. Garmin and TomTom will just find a new way to beat each other up and they'll do it using someone else's hardware. That is all.

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