Yes, navigation and maps is the killer app for LBS.

Now it seems that Google Map with support for navigation has the potential to disrupt the whole Nav systems market. And if Google decides to make this new app available across different handsets beyond Android, wow, all the Nav vendors are going to be hurting.

And how can others compete?

Google Maps Nav is a free app, the traditional Map app but now with real-time always up to date maps and nav info, turn by turn directions, live traffic information and even street view and other goodies such as Layers of information! You can see the video, and read TechCrunch’s article Google Redefines GPS Navigation Landscape: Google Maps Navigation For Android 2.0.

(Side-note: Nokia paid $7.7 billion for NAVTEQ and yet I can’t recall anything from that deal with as much impact as this Google Maps Nav solution)

How can Google Map/Nav disrupt the whole Nav system’s market? Let me give you an example using TomTom since I’m more familiar with TomTom’s Nav system…

TomTom’s Nav app for iPhone cost $100 and if you add their $120 cradle the whole thing is $220. And I bet there are other “hidden” costs for things such as map updates; that is their cash cow.

Let’s now look at TomTom car nav system. Like 2 years ago my wife gave me a TomTom ONE XL as a present. I love the gadget I must say and it has saved my neck a couple of times already. My wife paid like $200 for it. Now, if I want live traffic (or other kinds of data) I have to pay extra (if I recall correctly, for each). And the big one – if I want to update my maps, I have to pay for new map content. Paying for new content is fine, it cost like $75 if I recall correctly. But, because I haven’t updated my maps in a while they want to charge me $75 for the next release after the one I’ve on the device, plus another $75 for the latest one. In short, they want to charge me twice! I felt that they were taking advantage of me by charging me for a version I won’t be really using and I realized map updates is their cash cow; I didn’t upgrade.

And now Google releases Google Maps with Navigation support, a complete solution, for free, for your smart-phone. Can’t wait to get my hands on it (seems I may have to wait for Android 2.0 or upgrade my phone).

You would think that after everyone gets hooked that Google will start charging after the Beta release, don’t you think? Maybe their business model remains search and advertising based, or they will have a new model around charging business to appear on their maps and layers.

…and once again, the mobile handset is at the center of disruption…

Google Maps Nav features:

  • Search in plain English (watch video). No need to know the address. You can type a business name or even a kind of a business, just like you would on Google.
  • Search by voice (watch video). Speak your destination instead of typing (English only): “Navigate to the de Young Museum in San Francisco”.
  • Traffic view (watch video). An on-screen indicator glows green, yellow, or red based on the current traffic conditions along your route. A single touch toggles a traffic view which shows the traffic ahead of you.
  • Search along route (watch video). Search for any kind of business along your route, or turn on popular layers such as gas stations, restaurants, or parking.
  • Satellite view (watch video). View your route overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery.
  • Street View (watch video). Visualize turns overlaid on Google’s Street View imagery. Navigation automatically switches to Street View as you approach your destination.
  • Car dock mode (watch video). For certain devices, placing your phone in a car dock activates a special mode that makes it easy to use your device at arm’s length.

And yes, there is also a cradle coming for the Android-based phones that automatically will activate the Nav mode.

See the official Google Maps Nav website.