Google debuts free navigation app

Google unveiled its own free navigation application, called Google Maps Navigation, which offers spoken, turn-by-turn directions and is likely going to be seen as a challenge to the incumbents in the location-based services market, like TeleNav and TomTom.

Google maps for navigation mobile androidThe application currently is only available for phones running on Android 2.0, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Verizon Wireless launched the first Android 2.0 phone, the Motorola Droid, today. According to Forrester Research, the personal navigation market currently has 21 percent penetration among American adults, but is expected to grow by 33 percent a year over the next five years. Additionally, according to Forrester, smartphone-based navigation systems will dominate the market by 2013.

Google CEO Eric Schidt said that the way smartphones are evolving, creating the app simply made sense. "The mobile platforms, Android and the others, are so powerful now that you can build client apps that do magical things, that are connected to the cloud," he told reporters at a briefing earlier this week. "This is the most visually obvious example of that." Google Maps Navigation is an extension of the company's existing Google Maps for mobile application, which offers maps and directions but not spoken, turn-by-turn navigation.

Schmidt also noted the price of the application--nothing--and said it likely would go over well with users. "As long as you are on the side of consumers, you'll be fine," he said.

For more:
- see this video
- see this Google blog post
- see this NYT article

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