Droid, the new Verizon "app phone" that uses Google technology, has been talked up in the media as a rival to iPhone. But, with its Google Maps-based "turn-by-turn" navigation feature, the Droid offers a much more potent threat to specialized GPS device makers like Garmin and TomTom. (Share prices for both companies plunged last week when the feature was announced.) Is the GPS industry doomed by Droid?
Say goodbye to Garmin and TomTom: It's time to "start digging a grave" for the two companies, says Hiawatha Bray in the Boston Globe. The Droid's navigation system is its "most remarkable feature," and "matches up well against any of the standalone GPS units." The thing that destroys any chance for the current players to compete? It's free.
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The Droid's GPS isn't good enough yet: The voice-guided GPS feature "sounds good on paper," says Andru Edwards at Gearlive.com, but it has glitches that need ironing out. "Maps are loaded on the fly," which means that if you use the satellite view option, you can end up travelling faster than the maps can load. "If you are in a moving vehicle, relying on the maps to guide you, that is just unacceptable."
"Motorola Droid review"
TomTom will survive because of the non-US market: There is one thing that stands in the way of Google's total domination of GPS, says Stasys Bielinis on Unwiredview.com: Through its TeleAtlas subsidiary, TomTom owns "all the mapping data for Western Europe in Google Maps." That means there probably won't be free turn-by-turn navigation on European versions of the Droid, as TomTom is unlikely to hand over information that would "destroy their paid service and the main income source."
"Why Europeans did not get Google's free navigation"