There is a strong argument that smart phone or iPhone apps are slowly killing off the sat nav. Long a feature of car systems offering GPS tracking and map integration, satellite navigation systems had the advantage of being a unique technology for companies like TomTom in the 2000s, and became a standard feature of cars during this time. However, with Apple iOS and Android enabled smartphones able to feature maps and navigation systems without additional cost, many drivers are simply mounting their phones on their dashes, and using them to meet the same ends.
With manufacturers like Mercedes collaborating with Apple’s Siri voice recognition software to develop new navigation commands, and Ford’s SYNC system working with phones, it does seem like the sat nav has a bleak future. TomTom, the Dutch company that made their fortune off being a pioneer in sat navs, have experienced profit declines in the past year, which saw them lose 10-15% of their previous margins in 2011. In addition, more and more drivers are reporting that they will no longer own a smart phone, and will switch to using their phones.
Advantages of Smartphones
Smartphones give some arguable advantages over the traditional sat nav. With GPS and mapping only one part of their features, smartphones do not represent standalone investments, and are more portable in terms of being connected to different cars. In the same way, smart phone apps tend to be much cheaper, or even free, compared to buying a new sat nav. Others argue that apps can be updated more rapidly, and that they can be easily replaced by new apps if the original does not suit your needs. With Google similarly investing resources into developing driverless cars, having an integrated phone and sat nav system does make sense to a lot of users that want to have everything in one device. However, there are some arguments to suggest that sat navs aren’t quite on their way out yet.
Advantages of Sat Navs
Sat navs still have the advantage of actually representing better value for money in terms of their first investment. Still relatively cheap (£30-50), they also suit people who don’t own a smart phone, but still want to have the opportunity to make use of virtual maps and GPS networks. Companies like TomTom have adapted, in this way, to launch their own branded apps for use both on their own sat navs, and through smartphones. The specialised sat nav device, however, remains preferable for many people because of the quality of the information used, the reliability of the software, and the performance of its hardware.
Sat navs are generally more accurate than free smart phone apps, and are often updated more frequently. They include better receivers, and are designed to be attached to a car’s dashboard as part of their overall package, rather than requiring accessories in the case of a smart phone dock or cradle. Sat navs also have generally larger screens, and are more resistant to glare from the sun. Battery life is also longer, and the devices are more durable to being dropped or knocked from a dashboard. In addition, sat nav users do not suffer from the same potential for high roaming charges when driving overseas. Drivers wanting to have both a smartphone and a specialised sat nav can consequently benefit from being able to have a dedicated device that is designed for one purpose, rather than relying on an app.
James is an avid motor enthusiast, Sharing his passion for motor racing. Why not check out the wide range of used Toyota cars available from toyota derby today.