What’s Next for the GPS?

by Patrick Negri

            In the late 1980’s the world wasintroduced to a not-so-new piece of technology. This was a personal globalpositioning system, more commonly known today as a GPS. Though used in militarytechnology for many years, the regular person did not have such devices to usein their everyday lives. In 1990’s companies such as Garmin and TomTom exploded onto thescene and continued to grow through the decade. And through the turn of thecentury while constantly advancing their technology, these firms were able toretain large sums of revenue. The transportation industry was indeed changedforever. It looked as if Garmin and TomTom were going to be the top of thenavigation business for many years to come, but then something happened.
      In the summer of 2007 a littlecompany named Apple released a device that would again change the game forever.This, as you might have guessed, was the iPhone. Being sold under slogans such as “The internet in your pocket” and “Touching is Believing” the iPhone was thefirst mainstream “all in one” device. Along with this all in one device, comesa GPS. As the world of the smart phone grew and more and more apps werecreated, developers were able to use the GPS feature to their advantage.Creating apps such as Mapquest Mobile and AmAze GPS, developers have created aviable alternative, for smart phone owners, to a GPS system. This has limitedgrowth opportunities for traditional navigation companies.
            Companies like Garmin and TomTomwill have to play a new navigation game in a different way if they want tosurvive. They can re-position their value in their ability to provide reliable,safe and accurate directions very quickly to users. Up until now, it was allabout their device. That was the key component, because you could not getdirections in your car without it. Now smart phones, if they have not already,will deter people from spending hundreds of dollars on a device that does onlyone thing. Navigation companies need to understand their real strength comesfrom their intellectual capital, not their devices.
 Let’s Get This Guy.
            One option for these companies is totake advantage of twitter. Navigation companies can create a twitter accountthat is reactive to their followers. Twitter users can tweet at navigationcompanies with their questions, and in return they will receive directions toget them to their destination. Navigation companies can take advantage of tweetups by following traffic patterns and offering new routes to drivers stuck intraffic. Though this is an option for navigation companies, it will be difficult for themto turn this into revenue, and as any business professional will tell you, anidea is a good thing to have, but an idea that will make you money is a greatthing to have.

So,what else can they do? Are there no other options? Fear not navigation companyexecutives and shareholders! I have a solution. And this solution all boilsdown to you looking at your company, your external environment, and yourcompetition and asking yourself “What’s Appening??”
            Companies like Garmin and TomTomneed to create an app that will provide their service to users. I was shockedwhen I bought my first iPhone and the best option I have for a GPS app wasMapquest mobile. How could navigation companies not have gotten into this gamebefore? At any rate, it is not too late for them to compete. With that said,for this to be successful they will have to enter what is now a little bit of acrowded market, but they do have one major advantage: A BRAND!! Everyone knowsthe names Garmin and TomTom. They are everywhere. In our cars, in our watchesand, more recently, in our shoes! They can position it based on the idea thatdrivers cannot trust any one else’s directions except theirs. New game, new wayto play. Even though there are other GPS apps available, none have thereputation of large navigation companies such as Garmin and TomTom.
            All businesses have to remember thatthe car is not just a faster bicycle, and email is not a just a faster faxmachine. As we move through what seems to be a never-ending trend oftechnological growth, the external environment will constantly challengebusiness owners. Navigation companies have to play new games and compete in newways if they want to continue to outlast competition and stave off threatscoming from new technologies and a shift in the way people interact with thesetechnologies.


2 responses to “What’s Next for the GPS?

  1. You think revenue from apps is enough to keep them afloat?I think the key is partnering with car manufacturers with the goal that every car has a built in TomTom/Garmin system. Thoughts?

  2. Agreed. It will be difficult for them to sustain revenue. They are already available in automobiles, maybe they can sign similar contracts with smartphones?

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