Thursday, October 8, 2009

The future of navigation

Yesterday the annual European Navigation Event took place in the Netherlands under the inspiring title: the future of navigation. I visited the seminar with presentations from both well established brands like TomTom and Navigon and lesser known innovative companies with exciting initiatives like Layar and Routeyou. 

My take aways from a day of navigation:
- Exciting value added services and information are in the pipeline with real life traffic updates, 'eco' route suggestions, advise on car parks etc.

- Although still young as a product category Personal Navigation devices (PND's) have been very successful in conquering the market showing above 30% attach rates to cars in key EU markets.
- Despite this success the market is being threatened by severe price erosion and the rise of smartphones with gps inside.
- Navigon seems more confident than TomTom in approaching the smartphone segment as an opportunity rather than a threat. They have a platform agnostic approach for their software offering it for all major mobile platforms where they leave TomTom behind them.
- Layar and Routeyou explained the exciting open platforms they have created upon which companies and individuals can built further. Have a look at their websites to get an impression of augmented reality on your mobile (Layar) and outdoor personalised routes (Routeyou). In my opinion these kind of companies offering their platform to others have more growth potential than the 'older' (if I may say so in such a young market) companies with closed systems.

It was interesting to notice that there are a lot of parallels between the navigation market and the e-reading market, despite being completely different markets. In both cases content goes digital and companies from different backgrounds are forced to work together to create the best commercial proposition (content, hardware, wireless connectivity). The open versus closed platform approach can also be applied to e-reading. Some cross-overs can certainly be imagined where players involved in e-reading learn from the navigation market. I am looking forward to a Dan Brown Bernini tour through Rome based on Layar...!

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