The smartphone killed the camera. Is the GPS unit next?

Smartphones are killing point-and-shoot cameras. What are they doing to GPS systems? Garmin, maker of global positioning devices reports earnings today, and its quarterly results may offer a clue.
 
The year 2008 often gets a bad rap, but for GPS it was the glory days -- around 45 million of the devices were sold globally. This year GPS sales are expected to be less than half that. That's according to Charlie Anderson, an analyst at Dougherty & Company.
 
"That's lower than Apple has sold, in terms of total iPhones, just in the last three months," he says. Anderson says since smartphones started offering GPS, sales of the stand alone GPS devices have declined 15-20 percent a year. Every time a new smartphone rings, a portable GPS dies.

Then there's the auto industry. Steve Koenig is with the Consumer Electronics Association. He says built in navigation in cars is increasingly available and affordable
 
"Technology has become almost as important as miles per gallon when it comes to buying a new car these days," Koenig says.
 
But Anderson says Garmin hasn't lost its way, just changed course. It has diversified by selling GPS watches for runners and navigation systems for planes and boats.
 
 

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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