Berg Insight: Smartphone navigation app users grow; stand-alone device shipments fall

Berg Insight revealed the sector of personal navigation is rapidly becoming a mobile play, as the number of personal navigation devices (PNDs) shipped fell in 2013 while the number of people utilising mobile navigation apps grew.

The research company reports shipments of PNDs fell to 22 million units in 2013 from 28 million units in 2012, while the number of mobile subscribers using a mobile navigation app at least once a month increased to 180 million in 2013 from 150 million in 2012. Berg Insight noted the rate of decline in PND sales is slowing, but predicted annual shipments will fall to 10 million units by 2019.

Rising availability and quality of mobile navigation apps is one of the main factors in declining sales of stand-alone navigation devices, the company explained. Smartphone vendors are increasingly embedding navigation apps into new models, and some manufacturers have released NFC-enabled car mounts that work in conjunction with the smartphone app to enable in-car GPS services, Berg Insight noted.

Car manufacturers are also playing a role in the decline of PND shipments, with several offering interfaces to smartphone-based navigation apps wirelessly via Bluetooth and WiFi, or through fixed connections including USB and HDMI. The company predicted that in-car systems will pose a growing threat to PND shipments over time.

Berg Insight said Google, Apple, Telnav, Appello Systems, Nokia, and Garmin are among the leading navigation service providers. The research company also noted that many mobile operators are continuing to market their own navigation services developed by specialist providers including TeleCommunication Systems.

"App developers and operators are now trying to monetise navigation apps by introducing premium features and advertising. Developers are also forced to reduce costs as competition increases, for instance by adopting OpenStreetMap data to reduce map licensing fees", noted André Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

The company added that PND sales are also being affected by a high installed base of existing units and a relatively long upgrade cycle caused by new features including lifetime map upgrade options.

For more:
- see Berg Insight's press release

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