Speaking to The Times about Google’s free navi app, a TomTom spokeswoman has said: “This is a different type of device for a different type of consumer. The Google Maps service has been available in North America for some time and we have noticed no impact on our business.
In a way, it’s like digital cameras. Most phones have them built in, yet people still buy separate cameras for their dedicated functionality.”
During the UK launch, Google’s Steve Lee (Product Manager for Google Maps for Mobile) also defended the company from accusations of undermining the position of dedicated satellite navigation firms such as Garmin and TomTom, arguing that competition and innovation is good for the industry as a whole.
However, Google’s free navi app has a lot of interesting features including a ‘Car Dock’ mode, making it a potential competitor to PNDs:
* Searching in plain English: Users need not know the address. They can simply type a business name (e.g. “starbucks”) or even a kind of a business (e.g. “thai restaurant”), just like they would on Google.
* Searching by voice: Speaking the destination instead of typing (English only): “Navigate to Trafalgar Square in London”.
* Traffic view: An on-screen indicator glows green, yellow, or red based on the current traffic conditions along the route, where available. A single touch on the indicator toggles a traffic view that shows the traffic ahead.
* Searching along route: Searching for any kind of business along your route, or turn on popular layers such as petrol stations, restaurants, or parking.
* Satellite view: Route overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery.
* Street View. Visualising turns overlaid on Google’s Street View imagery. Navigation automatically switches to Street View as users approach the destination.
* Car dock mode. For certain devices, placing the phone in a car dock activates a special mode that makes it easy to use the device at arm’s length.
Source: Times Online, Google.