Today Google announced free navigation for the new version of its mobile software, Android 2.0. Seems like a pretty innocuous announcement until you consider who the players are in the market. TomTom and Garmin are two of the biggest players in the hand held consumer GPS market, so it came as no surprise that their business model might take a hit. Consider today's stock graph following the accouncement:
Ouch! It doesn't take a stock analyst to point out that anyone in the handheld GPS market is going to have an interesting time staying relevant in a marketplace where a once valued (and pricey) product is being given away for free. TomTom and Garmin are feeling the pinch, but they're not the only ones. The writing on the wall here is that the days of dedicated hand held devices are numbered. Even Apple themselves are seeing it amongst their own product lines. The iPod Classic and even the Nano are seeing shrinking sales all because people have discovered that having an iPod Touch or iPhone, which in addition to being able to play music or making a phone call, offer users a vast array of useful applications that fulfill any number of functions.
Who's next? I target eBook readers. The Kindle, Nook, and Sony's dedicated reading devices are the obvious choice for extinction. Though the iPod and iPhone do not necessarily make a comfortable book reading device, one could only imagine what the rumored Apple tablet will bring. If Apple were to combine the power and extensibility of their current iPod Touch/iPhone application experience and marry it with a slick interface for reading electronic books, then it would certainly obviate the need to carry an eBook reader on your person.
Look forward to the future, kids. The power and knowledge of the world is at your fingertips and it is only going to get better.
UPDATE: Right after I post this, I read an article highlighting a Twitter dedicated device. Wow. I am astounded. So what do people do when they have this device and people embed a link to a web page? While I agree that Twitter or Twitter-like communication is the wave of the future (heck, it's already here!), why would I carry such a clunky, one-trick-pony device in my pocket? 1996 just called, they want their glorified pager back!