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Garmin tries to scare drivers from free smartphone GPS

updated 05:35 pm EDT, Thu July 8, 2010

Garmin claims free smartphone GPS too costly

Garmin today tried to steer European travelers away from smartphone navigation today by claiming that it would be too expensive. The GPS maker claimed that free services like Google Maps Navigation were actually more expensive as the international data fees needed to get map updates were costly. Even a relatively short return trip like one from Calais to Paris, for example, could cost a British resident 74 ($112) in data.

The issue could be worse for certain travelers, as the EU's new roaming data caps could limit roaming fees to 50 euros ($64), possibly cutting off data in mid-trip.

While it remains true that roaming fees are likely, the claims don't touch on how the free services can work or to address every competitor. Google Maps Navigation can cache the entire planned route and may only need to download data on the return trip or if veering off of the intended course. Also, Nokia's Ovi Maps includes fully offline maps and doesn't charge at all. A handful of iPhone apps offer free GPS, though very few have offline maps.

The remarks come as Garmin has been threatened by smartphone GPS use and has itself felt compelled to enter smartphones with devices like the Garminfone. Even when free services aren't available, smartphone owners, especially iPhone owners, have had the option of paying for GPS apps with the same offline maps as dedicated GPS units.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Stoli89

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010


    Nokia's OVI Maps are free GLOBALLY

    Given Nokia's OVI Maps are free globally with ON-line or OFF-line turn by turn navigation, in multiple languages and with the ability to further personalize/customize voice navigation, as well as other location based and free internet services such as Lonely Planet, Weather, Michelin and Events...I truly wonder what is left for Garmin. Nokia's approach makes the data cost issue completely moot. With a decent size micro SD card (4 to 8 GB), one can easily download a large amount of maps. I can easily keep all of Europe and USA on one card at one time (along with video,pics and music)....and the ability to download maps via the OVI suite is pretty seamless these days. Not much left for Garmin given Nokia's approach to offer this service free with the purchase of (and over the lifetime of) a smart-phone.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    There's an app for that

    Dedicated nav devices are an endangered species. There's an app for that.

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003



    Problem is, is that when you get out of the car, iPhone )and some others) are still useful as GPS, especially with transit info.

    - A

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009


    There's a phone for that.

    It is called Android with the "Google Experience". Turn-by-turn navigation at your fingertips.
    Is that Garmin stock I hear crashing??

    The Little Green Robots are coming!

    Garmin is afraid. Very afraid.

  1. RonC

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2009


    Offline nav mode?

    Is there a way to force Google Maps/Navigation on iPhone or Android into offline mode once the route is computed?

  1. AppReview

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2010


    GPS worth the money

    some people would find the money is worth it, especially if they have a lifesaving app like My911 that uses gps locating to tell an ambulance where you are after an accident, even in a foreign country, it knows all the foreign countries' emergency contact or "911" numbers

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