July 13, 2009

Will Mainstream Adoption of GPS Reduce the Need for Google Maps?

Last week, for the first time in a while, I finally went gadget shopping. On my short list of things I wanted to possibly get was a GPS unit for my car. With my traveling more frequently to various meetups in the evening, combined with my notorious penchant for getting lost, having a GPS unit on hand has practically become a necessity. And unfortunately for me, Robert Scoble's having been an early adopter didn't mean that one came with his hand-me-down car. So when I spotted a Garmin Nuvi 265 unit in a gadget vending machine for a reasonable price at the local mall, I pounced.

And now, with handy directions on my dashboard to practically anywhere I need to go, I know I'm going to stop going to Google Maps. So gone are the days of my having piles of papers printed out from Google Maps from trips since past.

Like most Web consumers, I slowly made the move from Mapquest to Yahoo! Maps and eventually to Google Maps. Google continues to expand their geo-team with Google Earth and Google StreetView, but for me, this little unit from Garmin means I don't really care all that much. So what will happen next, assuming that all vehicles going forward, and eventually all smartphones, will have this data? I understand that Google data could power each of these devices, but the actual process of going to Google Maps, putting in a starting location and an ending destination, as we have done for years, is decimated. It's just not going to happen for me.

Today, I'm solving my need to find out where to go, step by step, with a dedicated unit - an interim step before GPS is an embedded, standard feature in my car. It's part of a natural progression, one I don't see reversing. If you have a GPS unit, are you using Google Maps any more?

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