Death of the Standalone GPS Device Will Improve Business Findability


I’ve been having side rants off and on for the past few months about standalone GPS devices and their inevitable death due to lack of flexibility and the rise of the mobile device.  It makes me sad because for a while, GPS standalone devices had a real hold on the market that we are literally seeing slip away holiday season by holiday season. However, from a local marketing perspective, the shift from GPS devices to mobile makes sense and ultimately, in my opinion, will increase the findability of local businesses for car commuters.

The Facts:

  • Personal Navigation Device (PND) sales are down.  In February of 2011, Garmin predicted their sales would be down 20% in 2011 from 2010.
  • From a practicality standpoint, less is more.  In tech forums like, users are swearing by their smart phone GPS apps which replace the need to carry multiple devices in their car.
  • Usability is lacking.  Features like voice control are limited to higher end models.
  • PND’s require users to manually update maps by plugging the device into a computer decreasing the likelihood of a user having the most up to date business information on their device.  Lack of access to current information can cause drivers to go to an incorrect location or not have a business listed at all.

A loss in sales, real owners saying they don’t need their devices anymore, and clunky update systems paint a real picture of the death of this tech dinosaur.  Let’s move on shall we.

The Replacement:

  • Smart phone sales are up.  The numbers change every day but as an example, in October, reported that 4 million iPhone 4S devices had been sold since its launch.  And according to, more than 40% of smartphone owners use their mobile devices for turn by turn directions.
  • Application flexibility.  Smart phone owners have a plethora of applications to choose from.  Android phones offer a free Google Navigation application while iPhone users can choose from companies like TomTom and Garmin.
  • High end features included.  For example Siri allows drivers to talk to their iPhone to ask for directions.
  • Smart phones are constantly connected allowing business data to update as quickly as it is published online. Instant connectivity leads the way to cross-channel integration, enhancing the navigation experience.  Apps like Garmin StreetPilot for iPhone allow you to keep in touch and explore the city through Facebook, Foursquare, and Wikipedia.

The shear usability and instant connectivity of smart phones as GPS devices make this shift clear as day for consumers and a welcome change for businesses.  A multi-unit business may open 20-50 locations a year with an aggressive growth plan however; a non-updated GPS standalone device may leave them literally off the map because of the process of upgrading their device was too much.


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