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Navigating Through the GPS Market Potential

According to a new Harris Interactive market study, one in six (17 percent) U.S. adults currently own a GPS location device or use and associated GPS service.

Among the Global Positioning System (GPS) owners and users, the most widely used devices were small handheld systems (34 percent) and portable car-mounted GPS systems (33 percent).

Other systems used include GPS-enabled PDAs or laptop computers (26 percent), cars with integrated GPS systems (25 percent), cell phones (13 percent) and other methods (7 percent).

"Despite advances in the technology, improvements in usability, dependability and falling prices, overall penetration remains relatively low for GPS services. At the same time, nine percent of adults indicate that they are very or extremely likely to purchase in the next 12 months," said Milton Ellis, Vice President of Technology Research, at Harris Interactive.

Ellis suggests that GPS providers may be able to increase adoption rates by promoting popular features of GPS systems, targeting users of online mapping services and increasing awareness of real-time automatic route recalculations and traffic reports available on many dedicated GPS devices.

GPS systems can offer real-time information at a moments notice -- helping drivers avoid traffic and navigate in unfamiliar areas. Key features for GPS owners include automatic route recalculation for driving errors (with 81 percent finding them extremely or very useful) and real-time traffic update (75 percent).

Other key features rated useful by GPS owners are multiple destination routing (73 percent), voice guidance and alerts (71 percent) text to speech capability (71 percent), inclusion of points of interest such as hotels or restaurants (63 percent), proximity alerts (57 percent), 2D and 3D maps (57 percent) and Bluetooth interface (45 percent).

There are a few features that GPS owners may not take advantage of with their GPS system. Just over two-thirds (68 percent) say that digital picture slide-shows are not useful on GPS, and even with the popularity of digital music, a substantial majority (69 percent) believes that digital music capability on a GPS device is not very useful, or not at all useful.

Online consumers frequently turn to websites that allow them to view maps and get directions online. The study shows that in the last 30 days a majority (83 percent) of online adults have used at least one Internet mapping website.

While some cell phones offer turn-by-turn instructions, similar to handheld GPS systems, awareness of these services remains relatively low with about one in five (19 percent) adults saying they are highly aware (8 percent extremely aware and 11 percent very aware) of the service.

Approximately one in six (15 percent) who have a cell phone are interested in getting GPS service on their next cell phone, with half of them citing that having GPS would make them feel more secure knowing where they are at, regardless of city (53 percent) or that it would help them to find alternative routes around traffic congestion (47 percent).

Thirty-eight percent say that providing fast and direct turn-by-turn directions to business meetings or other appointments is a benefit, while one-third say they would never have to stop and ask for directions (33 percent) or get lost in an undesirable part of town (29 percent).

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