Harman Quits The GPS Market, More Info About Panasonic Released

by Justin on December 17, 2008

The year has been tough on GPS manufacturers.  Falling consumer prices and a tough economy have hit top-tier manufacturers like Garmin and TomTom hard, but second-tier makers have been crushed.  The latest victim: Harman.

Maker of the Becker-brand GPS units, Harman’s new Traffic Assist units were announced for European release in early September.  They never did make it to North America and never will.  The company has discontinued all sales in the United States, though it will continue to sell portable navigation devices in Europe.

Panasonic, reported a couple weeks back to be exiting the European GPS market, now looks to be exiting the portable navigation business globally.  However, the company will continue to sell its Strada in-dash units.

Earlier this week a struggling Magellan was sold to MiTAC International, the parent company of the Mio PND brand.  In November Dash Navigation put an end to its sole GPS unit the Dash Express, and Audiovox, JVC, and Cobra have ended GPS sales this year as well.

Expect more GPS industry changes in 2009.  Eventually I think we’ll see an industry consisting of Garmin and TomTom and that’s it.  Even the GPS giants will probably begin to focus on mobile software development and leveraging map and user data into dollars.  Garmin’s nuviphone has just passed through the FCC, and while I don’t know if a branded handset is the best strategic direction for Garmin, it does signify a changing industry.

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