Connected PND makers are planning to replace built-in SIM card communication modules with Bluetooth to enable them to connect via handsets that support GPRS and 3G, according to industry sources.
Although the strategy signifies that connected PND could move away from the mid-range to high-end segment to become more of an entry-level device, it could also help the industry defend market share erosion from smartphones with navigation features.
A built-in communication module adds US$50 to production costs, which has kept PND prices up and forces consumers to pay for another SIM account, according to Ahmet Alpdemir, senior vice president for the automotive/PND business unit of CSR.
Bluetooth connection with handsets is one solution to reduce costs, and also allows end users to take advantage of their existing service plans, especially those with unlimited minutes. A Bluetooth module adds about US$2 to PND manufacturing costs.
PNDs with built-in Bluetooth account for a 20-30% market share at the moment, industry observers estimated.