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Emerging Mobile Personal Navigation Service

Mobile phone operators now have the ability to market a downloadable navigation application that is just as good as, if not better, than personal navigation devices (PNDs), according to a new market study by In-Stat.

As a result, handset-based mapping and navigation applications could cause a major change in the overall navigation market, which is now dominated by relatively expensive standalone devices, the high-tech market research firm says.

"Unlike MP3 players and digital cameras, handset-based navigation applications provide the only low-cost alternative product in a market of growing popularity," says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. "The value proposition for handset navigation applications is very strong compared with that of PNDs and, in some ways, the functionality is superior."

In a recent market study, by another research company, I recall that the most requested "wish list" capability -- by U.S. consumers that were surveyed -- was a GPS navigation service offering. I'm a Sprint customer, which utilizes a CDMA-based national network, and I don't recall if they have recently promoted this offering, but I do recall that it's available on selected mobile phone models.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

- Cellular operators whose service is based on CDMA (and iDEN) have an advantage over other mobile operators in nearly every region of the world, largely because of the A-GPS technology originally driven by mandates to support E911 services.

- In-Stat surveys of U.S. subscribers find navigation applications have a strong ability to draw subscribers from other operators and keep them loyal.

- The total number of mapping and navigation mobile phone subscribers could exceed 42 million worldwide by 2012.

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