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Google Commoditizes GPS Navigation and changes the entire industry

From Actionable Insights into the World of Indian Startups

Today Google announced the Google Maps for Android 2.0 and reports are that it is so awesome that it has turned the GPS navigation industry upside down. By giving away GPS software for free, it has changed the dynamics of the industry and this is reflected directly in the stock price of Garmin whose stock is down 16% and TomTom whose stock is down 21% today. I had blogged earlier about the GPS and how it was going to be come an integral part of our lives. Google is giving this awesome piece of technology away as a part of the Android device and is likely to offer it on other platforms like the iPhone and Nokia for FREE. There is absolutely no way in hell Garmin, TomTom and Nokia can compete with a GPS app that leverages Google Search to find things.

If you have used a GPS, you often find yourself searching for addresses, businesses and other points of interest. While Garmin, TomTom and Nokia have to work hard to create useful points of interest on the map by mostly using public databases and humans which is hard to scale, Google just leverages their web search technology to aggregate this information and make it available to its users. The analyst community probably forgot that one of the biggest losers due to this announcement is Nokia. Nokia paid over $8 billion to acquire Navteq which was in the business of creating maps and POI databases for GPS devices 2 years ago. Two years after this acquisition, we are yet to see a compelling service from Nokia. Whatever we have seen integrated with the Nokia phone is an amateurish attempt to build a GPS experience and the worst part is that Nokia wants to charge a subscription fee to the tune of Euro. 59.99 for an annual subscription. Please see the Nokia pricing details for Ovi Maps 3.0 here.   Another traditional cartography/gps company in India which may be impacted by this is MapMyIndia.com.   It may not surprise us to see Google launch Maps in India very soon which may be a pretty big blow to MapMyIndia who is running at a healthy clip in India now due to their incumbency.  However I think it is a matter of time until Google closes the gap and starts giving MapMyIndia a real run for the money.   I love competition when it benefits consumers directly and today Google has opened up a market that needed to be commoditized for mass adoption. Bravo Google!

PS: I tried downloading Nokia’s latest release Ovi Maps 3.0 before I wrote this article to see if they have improved their software from the previous version.   Ovi Maps 3.0 cannot be downloaded over the air and it requires you to use a PC to run a piece of software called MapUploader that uploads the application to your tethered phone.  I use a Mac and Nokia does not support the Mac yet for the MapUploader.   This just goes on to show you how dumb the Product Managers at Nokia are.   The distribution of the app itself is limited when you can’t distribute it over the air – Lame!

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Posted in Apple iPhone, Google Android, Nokia, Nokia OVI

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