Google Maps Navigation Service Could Put Crimp In Mobile GPS


Google Wednesday launched in beta its free online service, Google Maps Navigation, which combines search features with realtime accessibility, turn by directions, voice guidance to find addresses, and live traffic information for mobile devices sporting Google's Android OS. The Maps Navigation application has the added benefit of utilizing the Google Street View service for location images.

Since the Maps Navigation launch, shares for U.S. GPS navigation company Garmin fell 18 percent, while shares at Dutch firm TomTom dropped 13 percent Thursday morning, the BBC reported. The Motorola Droid will be the first mobile device equipped with the Google Maps Navigation application when the smartphone is debuted on Verizon's network next week. And others are likely to follow suit.

However, in addition to competing head to head with GPS vendors, Google's new Maps Navigation service might have the most significant impact on Apple -- the application is launching on Google's own Android, and not the iPhone.

Google has said that it might have a Maps Navigation for the iPhone some time down the road. But Google's immediate exclusion of the iPhone in its Maps Navigation launch seems to follow a trend of heated competition, if not subtle animosity, between the two companies, which seems to have escalated as more smartphones adopt Google's Android OS.

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Google launched a Web-based version of its Latitude service, rather than a native application, which Apple did not allow for download in its App Store. Google and Apple also clashed over the release of the Google Voice application, which Apple prevented from being accepted into its App Store -- a move which elicited an investigation by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.