Report Finds Navigation-Friendly Smartphones on the Rise

A new report from iSuppli marks 2009 as the final days of the ultimate supremacy of portable navigation devices, or PND. As navigation-enabled smartphones improve in design and functionality and gain easy-to-use apps, their use is expected to exceed PNDs by 2014.

The year 2009 marks the end of the reign of portable navigation devices such as the TomTom, researcher iSuppli reported Sept 1.
While 2004 saw the PND market take off, 2009 marks the year that PND sales will begin to steady out, while GPS-equipped smartphones continue to rise. By 2014, iSuppli expects navigation-enabled smartphone use to reach 305 million units, while the same year will see approximately 128 million PNDs in use.
"Previously, smartphones were not seen as a threat to the dominance of PNDs due to mobile handsets' poor battery life, unclear pricing structures and inferior interface," said iSuppli analyst Danny Kim in a statement.
"However, as smartphone design moves forward, many of these issues have been or will be resolved, leading to increased market share for navigation applications on smartphones," Kim added.
In 2008, the number of navigation-equipped smartphones in use worldwide was 39 million, compared with 86.5 million PNDs. In 2009, the use of navigation-equipped smartphones is estimated at 57.8 million units, compared with 114 million PNDs. By 2011, iSuppli expects those numbers to be still closer, with PNDs in use reaching 130 million units, versus 117 million navigation-equipped smartphones in use.
Among the smartphones' reconciled design issues, Kim notes, are better usability, larger screens, built-in connectivity, improved microprocessor support, higher internal flash memory and better battery life. Most notable of all are the applications developed specifically for smartphones such the iPhone.
"The new applications will make the iPhone a better match for the PNDs, diverting attention from the portable navigation devices," Kim said.
On Aug. 17, TomTom announced that it had created an application to provide full GPS functionality to the iPhone. This brings the total number of available navigation apps for the iPhone up to eight, with six on-board and two off.
In 2011, iSuppli expects nearly 100 percent of all smartphones to ship with integrated GPS functionality. "These features will give smartphones similar feature sets as midrange PNDs, making them more attractive to users," said Kim.
Researcher Strategy Analytics reported on July 29 that it expects the number of GPS-equipped smartphones shipped worldwide in 2009 to reach 77 million by the year's close.