Verizon is now offering third-party navigation and traffic information software on its GPS-enabled phones that support BREW applications. That, in the opinion of ABI Research analyst Dan Benjamin, is “another thorn in the side of aftermarket navigation players.”
The Verizon offer gives occasional users unlimited use of one of several services for just $1.99 per month (plus airtime charges). “If I’m only using it twice a year when I go on vacation,” says Benjamin, “it’s a very easy decision for me to use this handset-based solution instead of spending at least $500 on a navigation system built into my car.”
Compared to OEM or aftermarket installations built into the vehicle, handset-based navigation systems do have disadvantages: small screens, more difficult input methods, and lack of integration with vehicle speaker systems. But for light users, the research suggests, the much lower pricetag can be critical to purchasing decisions.
ABI Research believes that Verizon has little to lose with this strategy. “These applications are being offered by small companies and end up as a value-added proposition for Verizon,” notes Benjamin. “It’s not a Verizon venture. If customers are willing to pay for it, well and good. If not, it isn’t Verizon’s loss.”
The only similar handset-based services previously available have been offered by Nextel. They are slightly more robust, but come at a higher price. With the launch of the Verizon services, the potential customer base expands greatly.
Several different services are available via Verizon: Navitime, SmartTraffic from Pharos, TeleDirection from Televigation, TrafficMAP from eMbience, TrafficMatters from Kivera, and Mapquest Mobile.