Navman talking with car makers for OEM navigation deal

By Sarah Falson

SYDNEY: Navman confirmed this week that it has its sights set on the OEM car information (which includes navigation, security and safety) market, and may in the future team-up with an established car manufacturer.

“We have approached car companies,”  Navman Australasian marketing manager, Wendy Hammond told Current.com.au.

“We already offer a built-in solution – the IDN-3000 – that’s really going through car specialty stores. It is wired into the main system, so the sound comes out your speakers. It also doubles as a CD player.”

The IDN-3000 is currently selling in New Zealand and Europe, but has not yet been made widely available in Australia. Users would be required to pay extra for the unit to be wired into the dash by an experienced car entertainment installer.

The OEM car entertainment market is growing rapidly, with big-name manufacturers being poached by well-known car companies.

Bose recently teamed with Holden Caprice car-makers in Australia and a top-of-the-line system will be rolled-out in models next month.

The car information OEM market could be set for a similar boom. In the USA, Ford has chosen Pioneer as the supplier of its next-generation, DVD-based navigation and entertainment systems for selected Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.

The advanced navigation system offers turn-by-turn route guidance, touch-screen display, an AM/FM tuner and an integrated six-disc CD player with MP3 playback.

Navman confirmed that the portable navigation market would not be affected by OEM systems, as people still desire to take their units on foot, and transfer them from car-to-car.

“[The majority of] our products are transferable,” said Hammond.

“If they were built-in, you couldn’t take them with you.”

However, portable navigation units could still be in danger due to the market-entrance of full-blown, GPS navigation systems built into slim, light and ultra-portable mobile phones, such as Nokia’s new range of N-Series mobile phones, set for retail in 2007.

The flagship Nokia N95, with a five megapixel digital camera, stereo speakers, games, internet access and GPS, is expected to cost between $1300 and $1400.

Navman’s new range of portable navigation units – including the entry-level F20 ($699), mid-range N40i ($849) and top-of-the-line N60i ($1099) – are about twice the size of Nokia’s offering.

The N40i and N60i include built-in cameras and Navman’s new NavPix technology, which allows users to take a photograph using the navigation device, and store it as an image-reference for later trips. A GPS-coordinate will be attached to the image file, and turn-by-turn instructions will later direct the user to the same spot.

Photographs can be shared, too, via the Internet.

Portable Navman systems can be purchased from major retailers including Harvey Norman and Dick Smith, and select smaller outlets.

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