The first half of 2004 saw a marked rise in the shipments of GPS navigation solutions for handhelds in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) according to new estimates released by research firm Canalys. The number of units sold from January to June was over 720,000, compared to less than 700,000 for the whole of last year. The leading vendors overall were TomTom, with 26% share by units, followed by Navigon on 20% and ViaMichelin on 12%.
“Consumer demand for such solutions, particularly in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and France, is one of the key reasons that handheld shipments in the region have continued to grow over the past year, while shipments elsewhere, particularly in North America, have faltered,” said Chris Jones, Canalys director and senior analyst.
Canalys research shows that a high proportion, almost three-quarters, of navigation solutions for handhelds were sold as bundles (comprising a handheld, software, GPS module and associated car kit and accessories) rather than as a separate software purchase, with a further 9% being based on handhelds with integrated GPS, such as the Mio Technology Mio 168 and Navman PiN. This means that around 40% of all handhelds shipped in the six-month period were shipped as GPS navigation solutions.
Handheld vendors do not have the navigation market to themselves, however, and competition is emerging in several forms. As in other application areas, such as personal information management (PIM) and mobile e-mail, smartphone vendors are expected to take an increasing share. Solutions designed for Symbian or Microsoft based smartphones are available from companies such as Route 66, Wayfinder and Webraska, and although adoption of navigation on smart phones is low today the huge volumes being shipped of this class of device make it an attractive target for software providers. Mobile network operators will increasingly promote off-board solutions, paid for by subscription, that always offer the most recent available maps and dynamic routing capabilities to help motorists avoid problem areas. Some operators have already started to establish their navigation market credentials by advertising solutions based on own-brand wireless handhelds, such as the O2 xda II.