Friday, November 26, 2010

Are Smartphones Stealing All GPS Sales?

smartphones stealing gps sales
For years researchers have been saying that the developments and advancements of smartphones would cause GPS systems to become obsolete, but until recently smartphones did not seem like a legitimate threat.

The Swedish research company Berg Insight says that it believes that PND (personal navigation device) sales will peak at 42 million units by next year and then slowly phase out due to the increase in GPS-enabled smartphones in the years to come.

Smartphone-enabled GPS systems are so much more convenient when they are compared to a separate device that you have to lug around everywhere with you like a GPS system.
The numbers concerning the decline of GPS systems are a sharp contrast from the numbers just a few years ago that showed several hundred dollar GPS systems including Garmins, TomToms, and Magellans that made the very top of some people’s Christmas lists.

To pinpoint the decline of the want or need for a GPS system, you must consider the launch of Android in October 2008. When this occurred, subscribers were provided with Google Maps and navigation programs for free. In February Nokia followed suit by providing their users with Ovi Maps, a-turn-by-turn navigation software. Berg reported that compared to the same time last year, in the first half of 2010, the use of navigation services of mobile devices grew by 57 percent.

“The technology is being partially absorbed into smartphones and in-dash devices,” said Kevin Rauckman, the Garmin chief financial officer. Despite the decline in the purchase and use of GPS systems, navigation companies are still putting up a fight. “We are also seeing the industry mature very rapidly. But that in no way means the end of the road for our business,” said Rauckman. The companies are adding features to their GPS systems like much more accurate maps, bigger screen sizes, and specific data points locating things such as sex offenders or speed cameras. They are also “fortifying” their apps so that they can directly compete with devices and services like iPhone, Android, and Symbian.

“There is no doubt that the smartphone is transforming many of these markets, not just navigation devices, but cameras and media players, too,” Andre Malm, a senior analyst at Berg Insight said. “These markets aren’t going to disappear, but they are going to change substantially.”

In spite of the figures that Berg Insight has predicted, they say that they don’t see GPS systems as devices that will completely die off. In a press release Berg said that in the years to come it is likely that most North American and European customers will own more than one device capable of taking care of navigation needs.

Malm said, “Vendors need to communicate the advantages of connected services, such as better traffic information, in order to educate potential customers and stimulate demand.”

I have begun to see the use of GPS systems decline quite a bit lately, but I agree with Berg Insight on the prediction that the devices will not completely disappear. Some people like the size of GPS systems, and others like having an actual device in their car that is specifically utilized for navigation purposes. Although the younger generation may not be interested in GPS systems and would prefer to use their smartphone, many people in older generations may prefer the various advantages and simplicity of a GPS system.

We’ll just have to see how GPS systems do in the future, and if smartphones really will take over the GPS market.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

What You Need to Know About Traveling for Thanksgiving

According to recent reports released last Tuesday, an improving economy is behind an expected surge in travelers for Thanksgiving. According to numbers estimated by AAA as well as IHS Global Insight, somewhere around 42.2 million people will travel anywhere from 50 miles away or more come next Thursday for Thanksgiving. That is a lot of people. In fact, it is an 11% increase from the amount of travelers seen last year, which was somewhere around 37.9 million who traveled during the 5-day break.

AAA and IHS Global Insight have based their predictions on signs of an improving economy which includes a 2.2% gain in gross domestic product since Thanksgiving 2009. The organizations are also using the GDP growth as well as signs that many consumers are knocking off their debt as indications that more of these people will clutter highways and airports for Thanksgiving.

Over the last two years, Thanksgiving travel has dropped to a historical low. Travel last year only rose a pathetic 0.2% from 2008 when the number of travelers dropped a dramatic 25%. In most cases, people will be traveling by car which makes a near 94% of all Thanksgiving travel. A 12% increase in highway traffic is also predicted to occur compared to last year's numbers.

In an unfortunate event, gas prices have increased by $0.24 per gallon over the last year. However, AAA believes that the increase "is not sizable enough to discourage travel." AAA also stated, "Moreover, the increase in gasoline prices is expected to be offset by the healthier economic positions of households this holiday relative to last year."

Only about 4% of travelers this Thanksgiving will be traveling by air which includes a projected increase of 3.5% in air travel. This increase, according to AAA, is "based on improvements in the airline industry and its recent increases in capacity." If this is true, then it will be a distinct change in airline travel which has plummeted in recent years. However, these statistics do not take into consideration the number of people who may be deterred from flying due to the increased airport security including the full body scanners that have recently been put in place.

An increase in holiday travel is a good sign that we may be coming out, ever slowly mind you, of this economic recession we seem to have fallen into. While there has been an increase in Thanksgiving travel, I think the amount of Christmas travelers is going to be a true sign of how far out of this economic slump we truly are.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

World's Most Remote Hotels

Remote HotelsInterested in spending a weekend at the Bloomfield Lodge in Queensland, Australia? No problem, just jump on a chartered plane, drive through the rugged Australian Outback and cruise down a river. Once you do that you will be greeted by an oasis of solitude and beauty. The hotel is located in the Daintree Rainforest and is directly next to the Great Barrier Reef. While staying at the Bloomfield Lodge, guests can hike the rainforests, swim under waterfalls, fish, sail, and even get a massage all without the crowdedness of your typical resort.

The Andean Cottage in Peru is the same way with everything being about privacy. Guests at this resort are treated to a private beach and dock as well as a private resort on a private island on Lake Titicaca. One downside (or positive) is that there are absolutely no automobiles, no electricity and no televisions, so be prepared to take a couple of interesting books along. Oh, and you also get a personal 24-hour butler. Guests can make it to the island in a mere 4 1/2 hours by speedboat.

Both the Bloomfield and the Andean are but two of the world's most remote hotels and resorts. With how "connected" our world has become, what with all the smartphones and laptops and the like, the promise of a remote getaway is quite enticing. Typically vacations stop becoming vacations and begin to become working-on-the-go. To quote Elbert Hubbard, "No man needs a vacation so much as the man who just had one." This is why remote hotels are so appealing.

Sometimes, getting away doesn't necessarily mean going hundreds of miles away from the nearest person. The Kokopelli's Cave outside Farmington, N.M. has its own definition of "remoteness". Take a path and descend a ladder and you will find yourself in a hotel room in a cave, that's right, a legitimate cave 70 feet underground! This resort is definitely not for the claustrophobic.

Speaking of claustrophobia, if you have it, then you probably shouldn't take a trip to the Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. In order to reach your hotel room, you have to scuba dive 21 feet to what used to be an underwater laboratory. Sounds a little bit like Rapture if you ask me (gamers will understand).

If you want to get away to a place that is really cool, then head on over to the Hotel Arctic in Greenland. The Hotel Arctic is the most northern 4-star hotel in the world. Positioned in a fjord, the hotel offers guests the natural beauty of the country right outside your window with icebergs, snow and sunny vistas. If you want to, you can even spend the night in an igloo.

While some of these hotels can be a little expensive, getting a remote getaway won't always burn a hole in your pocket. The Garvault Hotel in the Scottish Highlands will only set you back $200 a night (based on double-occupancy). The grounds for the hotel, which are located between two giant private hunting reserves, overlook the beautiful Loch Rimsdale. There are literally no distractions whatsoever for miles. Guests will be able to enjoy hiking over the Highlands, fishing for trout and salmon, bird watching and then relaxing by a peat fire.

Each and every one of these incredible hotels is perfect if you actually want to escape for a while and have a real, traditional vacation away from EVERYTHING. Don't let the hussle and bustle of everyday life follow you on what is supposed to be a relaxing retreat.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Buying a GPS System

buying a gps system
If you’re looking into buying a GPS system, now is a great time. Finally, the product has matured to the point that it’s not outrageously expensive anymore. This is partially because of time and partially because of the fact that many smartphones are now equipped with navigation abilities. Before you go out and buy just any old GPS system though, there are definitely some factors that you should consider.

First, you should consider the basics of the device. Screen size is something that is very important. Right now the trend seems to be a 4.3 inch screen. Most of the newest models are featuring screens this size. If you’re willing to go for a smaller screen size than this, you will most likely save a decent amount of money. The issue with a smaller screen is that it can be difficult to read things on it. Another thing you have to consider though is that the larger the screen the more room it will take up on your dashboard or windshield. These are just some things to keep in mind.

When purchasing a GPS system, you may wonder about the maps that the device includes. Well, almost every system sold these days comes standard with preloaded maps of the United States, and some even come with Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico as well. If you need any additional maps, you can usually purchase them from the GPS manufacturer and download them via your PC or onto your SD card.

Another thing to consider when looking at GPS systems is voice control. A few systems allow you to speak commands instead of poking at the buttons on the device's screen. This is definitely safer because it allows you to control the system hands-free, but you will most likely be paying more if you want this feature. There are also some other great extras that you can find on some GPS systems like media players that can support audio, photo, or video playback from an SD card. Other more practical features would be Bluetooth capabilities. These are definitely some features that you should consider when looking at different systems.

You will also want to make sure that the system features live traffic updates. You need your GPS to have a traffic receiver so that you can find alternate routes during traffic jams. For some systems that don’t feature traffic receivers, you can purchase an add-on accessory that will give you traffic updates. Unfortunately, adding on a receiver will add to the bulk of your GPS and add yet another cord, and then you also will have to deal with paying for a subscription to live traffic updates. Basically, the point is that you want to try to find a GPS with a built-in traffic receiver.

So, after reading about all the things that you need to consider when purchasing a GPS, you might ask if it would simply be easier to purchase a smartphone with navigation capabilities. It really just depends on what you like best. If you decide to utilize your phone as your GPS system, you will have to buy something so that you can mount your phone to the windshield, and you will also have to consider the fact that using your phone as a GPS system will drain your phone's battery a lot. Some people just prefer to have a device that is dedicated only to navigation purposes. It’s really up to you to decide what you feel more comfortable with.

These are just a few things that you should consider if you’re looking into buying a GPS system. You should definitely do some research before making any kind of purchase. Make sure that your system has everything that you’re looking for. Like I said, this is a great time to be looking into a GPS system. You’re sure to find a great deal out there if you take the time to look for one.

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