|Diving into the market with a splash, Dash Navigation has begun shipping a device the may represent the future of in-car navigation – its connected PND, the Dash Express. Time will tell whether Dash makes it big, but the company is riding a wave of demand for PNDs and other forms of automotive navigation and adding a key twist: a data service to augment the GPS navigation.|
The market for automotive navigation is in the middle of a serious surge of growth: devices used for car navigation passed about 43 million units sold last year and are heading towards 90 million a year by about 2012. As for what will continue to drive the growth, Dash is an example of a company betting on the rise of navigation data services.
Dash’s device provides an interactive link to the Internet via cellular networks, but that’s not the only route to take. Some other systems offer a one-way data service broadcast over FM or satellite radio. These connections provide such useful features as traffic, weather, gas prices, and movie times. “Currently devices with an embedded cellular data connection are quite expensive and come with a monthly fee.” notes Brian Henry, an analyst at IMS Research. “Prices are expected to decline steadily over the next five years and companies are looking into business models that would allow consumers to use these devices without the fee.”
There is some indication these types of services may catch on. OEM navigation systems with two-way data services have been offered in Japan for several years and by now some 40% of the OEM navigation sold there have an interactive data connection. These systems have yet to debut in the United States but are expected to become available about 2010. As Dash has shown, these services will not only be available in OEM systems but also in the portable device market. In addition to Dash, PND makers that plan to offer connected devices in 2008 include Magellan and Mio.