Vendors claim customers are 'willing to pay' for GPS services

Sat navs unthreatened by free rivals

Satellite navigation device vendors insist the position of dedicated products is secure, despite Nokia’s incursion into the area with a new and free rival product that will be loaded on its mobile phones.

Nokia’s Ovi Maps software offers a technically free alternative to dedicated GPS devices, and includes free walk and drive navigation, including turn-by-turn voice guidance and updated traffic information.

Google launched a similar free-of-charge product in 2009 and, according to GfK figures, the value of the portable navigation device market dropped by 15 per cent that year.

However, TomTom insisted that the presence of free alternatives did not threaten its position. “In our view, customers have over and over again been willing to pay for the best user experience,” the company said in a statement to PCR.

Fellow GPS vendor Garmin seemed equally non-plussed by Nokia’s announcement. “The main thing for us is that we already have a large amount of competition in our area,” a Garmin spokesperson told us.

Although Nokia sidestepped PCR’s questions on the possible impact on the future of the portable GPS industry, they did inform us that the move had been planned for some time.

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