Personal navigation device sales see uptick

Written by Nikita Upadhyay | Nikita Upadhyay | Mumbai | Updated: Jun 27 2011, 08:21am hrs
It would soon be a thing of the past for you to roll down your glass window and ask for directions. Whether it is a map on your smartphone, a location application sitting on your tablet device or a personal navigational device (PND) installed in you car, these are slowly and steadily changing the way you locate your destination.

In 2010, as many as 52,000 units of PNDs were sold in India, and this is expected to go up to 1,50,000 in 2011, a more than 150% jump. The navigation market is showing signs of maturity, as price points decline sharply and consolidation happens, reports In-Stat Research.

The overall navigation market is growing rapidly and is in a nascent stage, pegged at roughly R100 crore currently, but expected to grow exponentially to more than R1,000 crore in the next three-four years, said Rohan Verma, director, MapmyIndia, a digital maps, navigation and location-based services company. According to a Juniper Research report, globally, revenues from mobile location-based services are expected to reach more than $12.7 billion ( nearly R55,000 crore) by 2014, mainly driven by smartphone proliferation and a surge in application store launches.

Telecom operators have started providing users applications that provide location-based services. For instance, Bharti Airtel has an application called Smart Pilot, Tata Docomo recently launched Route Finder for its 3G subscribers, Aircel has its Pocket Finder application and Reliance Communications has launched voice-based location services for its users.

Not just telecom operators, handset manufactures have also joined the league to offer navigational services. Recently, Nokia India introduced its Navteq mapping service to 3G users. All Nokia smartphones, Samsung's Omnia, i-phone, LG and Sony Ericsson come pre-installed with applications enabling navigational services. The automobile sector, which traditionally contributes 50% of the average revenue to these navigation device manufacturers, might face stiff competition from the wireless segment, which is catching up faster than expected due to larger proliferation of smartphones and use of location based services. Navteq said location-based services save about 12% on fuel consumption and help in saving fuel up to 23% annually. Also, it saves 9% of travel time and reduces carbon emissions by 23%. It also improves drivers safety. Growing GPS-based mobile handsets and smartphones with 3G have opened up a new a market for us, said Ogi Redzic, VP, sales & business development, APAC.

While Google claims that world-wide, of all users (internet and mobile), almost 40% comes from mobile phones, for i-Phone, its Sygic India application is among the top grossing (revenue generating) app on iTunes India among 100,000 other apps across all categories, which proves that consumers are willing to pay most for full-fledged navigation apps.