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Google crushes yet another technology with free Maps

October 28th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Fresh off the press from Engadget, we have news that Google will be releasing a huge update to their Maps application when they release Android 2.0. The featureset is pretty impressive – turn-by-turn, traffic updates, voice nav, satellite views, street view routing, and a very clean interface.

This is huge, and puts a lot of pressure on the nav manufacturers to come up with compelling reasons to buy a standalone device to do turn-by-turn navigation, especially at high end price points. I give them maybe another year (two at most) to find a way to justify their existence or they’re toast. In two years, smartphone OS’s and processors will be powerful enough to allow both phone calls and navigation simultaneously while playing back music. Too bad the Nuviphone didn’t come out two years ago. It would have given the nav companies a fighting chance to develop their technology to a point where they could have competed. (Of course, hooking their star onto Microsoft was probably a boneheaded move too but there really weren’t many choices at the time so I’ll forgive them that.)

This move puts even more pressure on Apple. The Google Maps app on the iPhone is probably one of the most heavily used (it vies with email in terms of use for me personally). Now Apple’s faced with having a high-use mapping application that is a generation behind what’s available on Android. It’s quite possible that iPhone OS4 will remove the Google Maps app with an Apple-built alternative but that will be a version 1.0, and will probably not be as fully fleshed out as GMaps. And the expectation will be that Apple will provide an app that is at least as good as Google’s as part of the OS because, let’s face it, if I gotta pay $200 for an iPhone on contract, and then another $100 for TomTom’s nav app, I’d rather give my $200 to Verizon and Droid. Apple needs to lose the anti-multitasking religion right quick and figure out a way to do it efficiently and soon.

I highly recommend checking out the Engadget site to see the video and the press pics. The video demo of the alternative UI that pops up when the device is docked, plus the voice recognition capability, is pretty damned impressive.



If you’re TomTom or Garmin?  I hope you sold your stock before today.

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