Facebook on your Navman: the future of GPS devices

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The future of satellite navigation systems is connectivity, and if the predictions of Navman’s local GM are prescient, it is the portable GPS mapping device that could truly become the now much-quarried ‘iPhone’ killer.

At the Navman MY series launch yesterday, Current.com.au asked Australasia general manager Marcus Fry a series of questions on the future of the device. The new models feature heretofore unprecedented connectivity options in a handheld device, including Google search, Bluetooth, TrueLocal and FM transmitter. Further features, such as international mapping, can be purchased for an additional fee.

We asked Fry if the GPS device could become a loss leader, with the profits raised through sell-on optional features. Whilst he shied away from this as a possibility, he did suggest that the future of the GPS device is a move away from traditional mapping services.

“I think there’s a train of thought that thinks that could be a reality in the distant future, but what I really think is the device is going to become more than just a digital map, and one of the ways our product range will certainly grow is to make it a lot more connected.”

So if profiting off the sell-ons isn’t the motivation, what is? Fry said that as the devices become as fundamental to our lives as mobile phones, suppliers must continue to make the products more relevant.

“We don’t want people to necessarily rely on it, but people do rely on a navigation product, and we’ll see more connected navigation systems.

“We’re already talking about features that will come on later in the year,” said Fry, who referenced an upcoming Navman feature that will direct users to petrol stations, based on both location and the prices on offer.

“More and more of those relevant connections will happen in the future and you’ll be able to at some point…download your emails as you go, [access] your Facebook while you’re sitting having a coffee waiting for your next meeting, or whatever it may be. It’s not far away at all really.”

The new Navman MY series will be launched in July 2009. The range includes the MY30, MY50T, MY55T and the MY500XT (released in August 2009). This top-of-the-line model features a 4.7-inch capacitive touch panel, 2 gigabytes of memory, a MicroSD card slot and up to 3 hours battery life. Navman have not yet released recommended retail prices for any of these models.

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