Are Dedicated Navigation Units On The Decline? Survey Says Yes.

We've had our suspicions for awhile now, but now it looks like the research is confirming it. The dedicated navigation device has seen its peak, and it's days at the top are numbered. We knew that the standalone PND could be going the way of the Dodo when navigation applications began to pop up on some of the world's most popular smartphones. Sprint's Instinct was one of the first to really showcase NAV on a phone, and now that TomTom--a market leader--has caved to the pressure and issued an iPhone app, the end really is in sight.

Of course, just because it's in sight doesn't mean that it's awfully close. It'll take years, maybe a decade even, before the dedicated navigation device sees the majority of its market share stolen away by NAV-equipped cellphones and multi-function PMPs, but there's no doubt that Garmin, Navigon and TomTom better re-evaluate their business plan. The years of NAV units selling like hotcakes as holiday gifts are probably over, with research from iSuppli suggesting that smartphones will surpass PNDs (personal navigation devices) in the navigation market by 2014.

The same research outfit believes that by 2011, right around 100% of all smartphones will ship with integrated GPS functionality. We believe it. Even now it's hard to find a medium-to-high-profile smartphone without some sort of routing ability built in, and as with Apple's iPod, there's really no need for multiple devices that do the same thing. Also, smartphones have the ability to instantly update POIs, get access to updated maps, easily tap into traffic alerts, etc. In fact, the iPhone alone now has eight navigation apps to choose from, and we get the feeling that Android, webOS and BlackBerry phones aren't far behind. So, are you anxious to trade in your dedicated PND for a phone app? As for us, we'll stick to carrying both so long as multi-tasking is an issue on most smartphones.