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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Cell users ask: ‘Can you find me now?’

Google Maps Navigation features

Two levels of new technology will collide Friday. Google’s new Google Maps Navigation application coincides with the launch of Motorola’s new Droid smartphone.

The latest incarnation of Google Maps is a possible threat to GPS providers Garmin and TomTom. Google Maps is a free application, while systems companies like Garmin and TomTom provide can cost several hundred dollars apiece.

The new Google Maps program has added another dimension to its popular Street View option from the Web. A 3D graphic of the street names is visible while a user navigates the roads.

On top of turn-by-turn navigation, it also has user voice command that allows the driver to pick directions while in transit.

Eric Benderoff, editorial consultant for Appolicious, a Web site that reviews iPhone applications, said this application has the potential to seriously upset the market for GPS systems.

“Considering it’s free, it works amazingly well,” he said. “Last week when Google announced it, Garmin and TomTom’s stock nosedived, so consider how powerful this is.”

At the same time, a market will still exist for stand-alone GPS systems, according to Michael Gartenberg, vice president of strategy and analysis for Interpret LLC, a market research firm based in Los Angeles.

Gartenberg said rumors of GPS stand-alones going out of business are greatly exaggerated.

“People are overreacting a little bit when they say this app will put others out of business,” he said. “There’s room for other business in this space. What we may see here is the game gets upped further.”

Since the new Google Maps system is on a phone and not a stand-alone GPS device, like a Garmin or TomTom model, it might not be as useful for consumers for practicality purposes, he said.

Gartenberg said although Google’s service is free it is not going to be a top of the line product. He added that consumers would rather purchase a GPS system with a larger screen as opposed to something smaller on a new phone.

“Not everyone wants convergence in one device,” Gartenberg said. “The smartphone population represents less than a quarter of consumer usage. There are millions that will never be able to buy these types of dedicated devices. They might want a best-of-breed solution.”

While there is a Google Maps application on the iPhone, Apple’s smartphone, it is not as advanced as the version that is being introduced by Motorola.

Motorola’s Droid launches Friday and is the first smartphone with the new Android 2.0 interface. The innovations in this type of phone include a new Web browser and e-mail options, and also applications similar to ones the iPhone features, such as Facebook and YouTube.

The Droid and other smartphones that run Android 2.0 system are exclusive providers of Google Maps Navigation. The iPhone cannot upgrade to this version because it runs a version of Google Maps that is part of its default apps lineup, cannot upgrade to this version.

Benderoff said this phone is one of many that could take the Google Maps app and sway consumers to purchase it.

“It’s an app that’s a game-changer and a real hit for Verizon (Wireless) on the Droid phone, and will be on other Android 2.0 phones,” he said.

The Droid, which has an exclusive contract with Verizon, is targeted to sell at $200 with monthly payments of $70 in data and phone service plans, and an initial $100 mail-in rebate.

Dan Nemeth, a junior in the College of Business Administration, rates Google applications highly and said he would upgrade once the Droid phone comes out.

“If I upgraded I would definitely get it because Google applications are always free and of good quality,” he said. “I have no reason to believe this app won’t be great, based on the numerous Google apps I use.”

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