The days are definitely numbered for standalone GPS devices and paid GPS applications on smartphones. After Google unveiled its free Google Maps Navigation application for Android 2.0 devices in October, and then shortly made it available for all Android phones, it was clear that the market for GPS navigation as we knew it would never be the same.
Now those who’ve previously depended on charging for GPS services have to get creative to keep consumers interested — and it looks like Verizon is doing just that by enabling Facebook status updates from its new VZ Navigator 5 application.
As reported by TechCrunch, the integration is particularly interesting because it allows users to send their location data to Facebook. There’s still no official location functionality for Facebook, but that hasn’t stopped Nokia, Yahoo, and other third-parties from trying to implement it via status updates.
It’s an interesting addition for Verizon, but it’s not the sort of thing that will compel more users to shell out for the application. Like many cellphone navigation solutions, you have to rent the software instead of buying it. Verizon charges $9.99 a month, or $2.99 a day, for access to the software. Other updates in VZ Navigator 5 include crowd-sourced traffic information, “enhanced” points of interest, and an updated user-interface.
VZ Navigator, and other paid GPS smartphone apps, probably won’t see huge usage drops as long as Google Maps Navigation remains Android-exclusive — but the call of free turn-by-turn GPS navigation will certainly remain tempting, and will likely prompt many to go Android in 2010. If Google manages to bring Maps Navigation over to other platforms, you can be sure that paid GPS applications will quickly go by the wayside.
Given that Verizon is the home of the Motorola Droid (and soon the Nexus One) — one of the highest end Android phones — means Google’s free GPS offering is likely cutting into Verizon’s own GPS margins. At the same time it’s bringing many new subscribers to Verizon’s network. More than anyone, they’re probably well aware of VZ Navigator’s limited lifespan.
The app is out today for the Samsung Omnia, LG enV Touch, BlackBerry Curve 8530, and the HTC Touch Pro2 — with support for more smartphones in the coming weeks.