Market Soars For Car Navigation, Global Positioning Systems - InformationWeek

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Market Soars For Car Navigation, Global Positioning Systems

Shipments of car navigation and global positioning systems are on track to hit 65.1 million units by 2012, more than three times the 19.8 million shipped in 2006, iSuppli said.

Shipments of car navigation and global positioning systems are on track to triple worldwide by 2012, a market research firm said Friday.

Due to a rising awareness of navigation systems among consumers, shipments of such products are expected to soar to 65.1 million units by 2012, more than three times the 19.8 million shipped in 2006, iSuppli said. Driving awareness is the growing popularity of personal navigation devices (PNDs), which since 2001 have taken over the car navigation market that was once dominated by in-car systems.

The popularity of PNDs has produced strong growth for the two leaders in the market, Tom-Tom and Garmin, the research firm said. The companies are now two of the fastest-growing semiconductor buyers in the world. "Given that the handheld navigation market is still at such an early stage of development, this is an amazing feat," iSuppli analyst Richard Robinson said in a statement.

Tom-Tom and Garmin have experienced dramatic revenue growth, rising to billion-dollar companies during the last four years, iSuppli said. Tom-Tom's rise has been the fastest, reaching nearly $1.6 billion in revenue last year from only $10 million in 2002.

Competition, however, is heating up. About 100 original design manufacturers from Taiwan and Korea are entering the market to try to grab a portion of the sales boom. The biggest threat to the market leaders comes from ODM Mitac of Taiwan, which owns the Mio brand and recently bought the Navman brand.

Mio and Navman together captured 20% of the market last year, placing Mitac in the No. 3 spot behind Tom-Tom and Garmin, which posted 37% and 25% market shares, respectively.

GPS devices range from the general-purpose device for navigating paved roads to rugged devices for off-road use to the novel, such as the SkyCaddie SG2 for finding your way around a golf course. Under the rugged category is the DeLorme's Earthmate PN-20, which has a waterproof housing designed to fit in the hand, not the dashboard.

U.S. households spend an average of $1,200 a year on electronic gadgets, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. The average home has 25 consumer electronic devices.

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