Study: Global Market For Mobile Nav Units More Than Doubled

A new study from Canalys, a U.K. consultancy covering consumer electronics, finds that the global market for mobile navigation devices has more than doubled in the second quarter this year, versus the period in 2006.

The Reading-based firm says 7.4 million GPS devices shipped in the second quarter, up 116% versus Q2 last year. More than 90% of those devices were portable navigation devices, whose sole function is delivering location and navigation info.

In addition, the U.S. share of the market rose to 26%, with Europe, the Middle East and Africa at 60% of the global market.

The top brand is Garmin--inching out TomTom for the first time in two years, per the study, while both brands saw their shares of the global navigation-device market increase, both year-over-year and versus the previous quarter.

Canalys' sales figures for devices used for turn-by-turn road navigation with GPS and software built in include not only Portable Navigation Devices, but also multipurpose devices like smart phones.



Per Canalys estimates, Garmin sold 1.85 million devices in the quarter--a 25% increase. TomTom sold 1.8 million units, followed by Mio Technology, Magellan and Navman. Chris Jones, Canalys vice president and principal analyst says, in a statement: "It is difficult to point to another part of the high-tech industry that is so dynamic growing as fast as the navigation sector."

The firm says Europe still leads sales, with 60% of the global market and an 82% growth over last year's sales. But the U.S. saw 300% growth, which also helped fourth-ranked Magellan--which, per Canalys, saw the biggest jump in sales among the top brands with a 548% growth in sales in the second quarter to 421,080 units delivered. Per the firm, Magellan is now the second-ranked navigation-device brand in the U.S. behind Garmin.

Jones says that GPS-enabled convergence devices--cell phones and the like, which combine telecommunications with entertainment and other functions--are making a mark in the sector, with products like Nokia's GPS phone, N95, nearing the Top 5. He says Nokia's success will depend on its ability to crack the U.S. market by appealing both to pedestrians and drivers.

Per Canalys, converged devices are only 6% of the mobile navigation device market today, but have the potential--because of multi-functionality--to grab a large portion of the market for portable navigation devices. Jones says that more convergence between mobile phones and the navigation industry is on the way.

"If you look at the stir Apple created in the mobile phone business with iPhone, it is not hard to imagine a leading brand trying something similar in the navigation/phone crossover space, with a new approach in design and user interface. The fact that the U.S. market is taking off and the volumes are becoming substantial means that more companies are sitting up and looking at the opportunities," he says.

The study precedes the Canalys Navigation Forum, which takes place in Barcelona on Sept. 10.

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