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Outdoor GPS Popularity Driven by User-Friendly Devices and Converged Solutions

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: GPS Devices

Outdoor GPS devices and solutions are quickly gaining momentum. An increasing number of high-end handheld outdoor GPS devices with intuitive user interfaces and multimedia features, along with the emergence of converged outdoor software solutions, are driving overall demand. Combined with increased interest in the outdoors, the result is a thriving outdoor GPS ecosystem.

“The market for outdoor GPS solutions is finally moving beyond the stage of a niche, early adopter market,” says ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte. “The use of advanced handheld outdoor GPS devices recently launched by Garmin, Magellan, DeLorme and Bushnell requires only limited specialist knowledge compared to their predecessors.”

A remarkable development is the emergence of many social networking community sites launched by GPS vendors, map providers, outdoor retailers and magazine publishers. These sites allow users to exchange GPS tracks and their outdoor experiences via geotagged pictures and other multimedia content, and are quickly becoming key drivers for the uptake of outdoor devices. Similarly, geocaching and location-based entertainment applications such as Groundspeak’s Wherigo are contributing to the success of outdoor GPS solutions.

A new category of converged outdoor solutions is emerging, with Trimble Outdoors and Wayfinder having recently launched software applications that allow users to employ their existing phones for outdoor navigation. Both subscription-based services and standalone outdoor software solutions are available. While this trend will certainly help grow the market and increase user awareness, these solutions will not be able to displace dedicated outdoor GPS devices with their unique rugged features and optimized hardware design.

However, cautions Bonte, several barriers still hinder outdoor solutions in reaching mass market status. “The availability, price and quality of topographical maps are major issues, especially in Europe. Distribution and communication is still mainly limited to specialized outdoor retailers and magazines. And many of the recently launched solutions suffer from performance and reliability issues.” Converged off-board solutions are also facing cellular coverage and battery life limitations. [ABI Research]

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