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GPS phones threaten satnavs sales, says analyst

Analyst predicts GPS smartphone takeover

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Shipments of satnave in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) fell between Q2 and Q3 this year. At the same time, shipments of smartphones with integrated GPS pick-ups more than doubled, according to market watcher Canalys. But it forgot to mention one thing...

Punters only buy satnavs for one thing: the devices' ability to steer you from one place to the next. People purchase smartphones because they boast all sorts of features, not just because there’s a GPS chip inside.

So although Canalys stated that Personal Navigation Device (PND) shipments in EMEA fell from 4.8m during Q2 to 4.3m in the following quarter, while GPS-equipped smartphone shipments rose from 4.7m to 10.4m during the same period, that doesn’t mean there's a link between one product category's decline and another's rise.

“With GPS being built into the majority of smartphones, and users increasingly being given maps on their phone by default, and multiple reasons to use them, the threat to PND vendors is rising quickly,” said Chris Jones, a Canalys VP.

But Register Hardware isn’t entirely convinced. Why else would you buy a PND unless you want to use it for navigation? The TomTom brigade have many benefits that GPS smartphones often don’t, such as a much larger screens, detailed mapping, voice guidance options and – of course – a Knight Rider design.

Conversely, smartphones offer all sorts of functions and the ability to get you from A to Z is just another feature on top of their ability to surf the web, play music, show video, take pictures, operate as a torch, record voice memos, send text messages, read and write email, and occasionally allow people to talk to each other.

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