In a presentation by Rich Rudow, of Trimble Outdoors, a division of Trimble Navigation, he discussed the evolving market for GPS equipment.
- Marine use - first heavy adopter of handheld GPS in early 90's
- Land Navigation use in late 1990's
- New categories
- Fitness - wrist mounted units
- Portable car navigation.
Many of the these features are being supplied by the explosion of the cell phone handset market that includes a digital camera.Rudow suspects that the ability to combine these two elements with the cellular handset has created a fork in the road.For example, the newer handsets are now including mega-pixel cameras with a high quality lens (Nokia has a product with a Zeiss lens), more hard drive storage, multimedia graphic user interfaces, streaming video, and wireless bandwidth to move content to/from the phone from the Internet.Second generation handsets are now in beta that include video and audio clips, GPS waypoints, maps at any scale on the fly (topo, street, aerial), upload or download paths, full GPS marked text and audio blogging.
So where is the evidence that the shift is on?
Sales of these multifunction handsets are already impacting standalone devices.
- Sales of handsets with digital cameras surpassed digital camera sales in 2004.
- Sales of PDA's have declined.
- Handsets are poised to make a serious run at the MP3 players.
- In 2008, it is projected that 600 or 700 million handsets will be Java or BREW enabled.
...GPS will not be immune to this trend
So what's the thinking here? What is Trimble seeing to be so optimistic? Rudow also quoted numbers from their own market research of GPS usage in the recreational marketplace.The top users are:
- 19% hiking, backpacking
- 12% hunting
- 14% boating/fishing
- 12% off road ATV
- 11% Geocaching.
To support this claim, Andy Graham, president of Bones in Motion (BiM), a startup company looking to provide one application in the recreation market and winners of NAVTEQ's 2005 LBSChallenge, believes in "making GPS personal." BiM is developing applications for active and healthy lifestyles, specifically for the cycling and running enthusiasts. This is a group of early adopters, some 20 million strong, that are "tech friendly," with some of the highest average incomes (more than tennis or golf) and that is "persistently connected" to the Web.BiM's first product will be called BiM Active.It will have real-time feedback for the user by recording an individual's activity on a GPS-enabled mobile phone, such as speed, distance and the calorie burn in addition to ancillary data like topography.But BiM really want to enable a "community of users" to share bike routes and log personal training runs, even conducting races remotely between friends because the application will have the ability to calibrate different routes to normalize difficulty so that "training buddies," though miles apart, can compare regimens.