One of the themes I've written about over the past year is how smartphones will eventually destroy the PND/GPS market. Hence Garmin's move into smartphones and TomTom's iPhone app. But all of that will generally be to no avail. Google's new Navigation layer on Google Maps for mobile, with turn-by-turn directions, is as good or better than any of the GPS devices. It has a voice (search) interface and offers the benefits of Google search and Google PC-Maps integration.
Right now it's only available for Android 2.0 devices (like those coming from Verizon). But it will come to the iPhone and other smartphone platforms.
From the Google Blog post:
Today we're excited to announce the next step for Google Maps for mobile: Google Maps Navigation (Beta) for Android 2.0 devices.
This new feature comes with everything you'd expect to find in a GPS navigation system, like 3D views, turn-by-turn voice guidance and automatic rerouting. But unlike most navigation systems, Google Maps Navigation was built from the ground up to take advantage of your phone's Internet connection . . .
I was at Google yesterday for the briefing and have written up my impressions of the demo at Search Engine Land:
When the main part of the briefing was through I asked the first question about whether Navigation would become available for other platforms such as the iPhone. Gundotra hesitated a bit in his response saying that this was up to the third parties, such as Apple in this case. (My sense is that Google has some ambivalence about making it available on other platforms.) He affirmed that the iPhone was an important platform for Google and that it would be available on the iPhone at some point in the future. And he conceded that the iPhone 3Gs was certainly powerful enough to support the service.
For the time being, until Navigation does get to the iPhone this is a true competitive differentiator for Android 2.0 devices, which is why I think Verizon will promote it. By contrast, TomTom offers turn-by-turn navigation as a $99 iPhone app. Once Google Maps Navigation becomes available on the iPhone the TomTom app is no longer viable. Who will buy it when a comparable and potentially better app is free? Even the possibility that Google Navigation is coming to the iPhone will suppress demand for the TomTom app.
Click on the image below for the video demo: