PNDs cut into car navigation market

Tech On: The huge increase in sales of portable navigation devices (PND) has made an impact on the car navigation market, which now looks set to split into two areas: low-priced PNDs, and high-function HDD-based systems.

“PNDs just swiped the market right out from under us,” complained a management-level source at one Japanese car navigation system manufacturer. It would be no exaggeration to say that in Europe, “car navigation” means PNDs. Equipped with a 5-inch or smaller liquid crystal display (LCD) panel and Flash memory holding map data, these simple car navigation systems provide guidance via map displays.

As of 2004, the total worldwide sales of PNDs reached only several hundred thousand units annually. This jumped to over five million in 2005, and again to over 10 million the following year, surpassing the installed car navigation market in which the Japanese car navigation system manufacturers had been doing so well.

The PND market is presently driven by TomTom NV of the Netherlands, Garmin International Inc of the US and MiTac International Corp of Taiwan. Of these, the first two firms command 60% or more of the market, and together with MiTac International hold about 80%. PND demand shows no signs of slacking off and, one PND manufacturer said, “There are signs that it’s going to be a big hit in the US in 2007, following its success in Europe.”

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