Trend: Mobiles challenge TomTom, nav sector

This time last year, TomTom NV's portable navigation devices for cars were on every technophiles wishlist, but this holiday season the company's devices are losing marketshare to navigation technology and applications on mobile phones. Gartner estimates nearly 40 percent of handsets will be enabled with navigation technology by the end of 2010. TomTom holds market share of more than 50 percent in Europe and about 20 percent in North America.

The solo driver may find the mobile phone sports too small a screen for navigational purposes while actually driving, but more of the applications are becoming voice-enabled and narrated like the competing in-car services. MobileCierge also just launched last week, and that mobile app gives you access to a real-live personal assistant who can walk you through directions over the phone.

For more on the rise of the mobile phone as a navigation device:
read this trend piece in The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)