Smartphones, Tablets Eat Into Personal Navigation Device Market

The PND market is set for a continued downturn on a global basis, with Berg forecasting shipments will decline to 10 million units worldwide in 2019.

PNDs and mobile technology

Global shipments of personal navigation devices (PNDs) declined from 28 million units in 2012 to 22 million units in 2013, though there are signs that the decline is slowing and some emerging markets still experience growth, according to a report from Berg Insight.

However, on the whole, the PND market is set for a continued downturn on a global basis, with Berg forecasting that PND shipments will decline to only 10 million units worldwide in 2019.

In addition, the user experience for handset-based navigation apps is now improving through better integration in the car.

Some vendors have released near field communication (NFC)-enabled car mounts, allowing the owner to configure the handset to turn on the GPS and launch a navigation app when the phone is placed in the mount.

"The overall downturn in the PND market as a continuing trend is due to competition from alternative navigation solutions, including lower cost in-dash navigation systems fitted as standard or optional equipment on new cars, as well as increased use of smartphones, phablets and small tablets with navigation apps," André Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight, told eWEEK. "Moreover, I think existing PNDs are being used for longer periods of time as more units now come with lifetime map and traffic updates."

Malm also noted that at the same time, the number of new compelling features being added each year to new models declines as the product category has matured considerably.

The vendors that appear best positioned in the PND market are Garmin and TomTom, which are present in all key geographical markets and market segments.

Malm said both companies are also focusing on navigation solutions for the automotive segment and smartphone-based navigation and can thus achieve economies of scale and scope.

"Smartphones are the main competitor for PNDs but small tablets are also becoming increasingly competitive," Malm said. "The competition from smartphones will likely increase in the future when more car models are being equipped with infotainment systems that can integrate smartphones to control and display the contents of apps using the HMI controls and screens in the car."

Examples of these smartphone integration standardization efforts include MirroLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In addition, several car manufacturers are also introducing their own smartphone integration solutions together with automotive tier-1 suppliers.

However, there seems to be room for continued growth in professional markets like vans and trucks as an alternative or complement to fleet management systems.

"These PNDs typically have very large screens and features optimized for truck navigation," Malm explained. "Examples include truck-specific routing and points of interest (POIs) as well as the possibility to integrate the PND with fleet management systems, for instance, to enable job dispatch and reporting functionality."