By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Portable GPS broke out of its niche status and swept the early-adopter market in 2006, and growth this year is expected to be no less spectacular as portable navigation devices (PNDs) drive into the mass market with lower prices and more consumer-friendly features.
A portable with a $600-plus suggested retail early last year is now likely to carry a tag of $299 to $399, suppliers said. Here at International CES, more brands plan to show new models at a suggested $299, including Cobra, which plans a $299 model with built-in reception of traffic updates.
New features for 2007 include the first model with free real-time traffic updates (from newcomer Porsche Design) and one of the first to offer gas prices and movie listings (from Garmin). Several new models at CES also offer satellite radio, joining earlier models from Garmin with XM capability. Clifford, for example, plans to show the industry's first PND with Sirius satellite radio.
In addition, dealers will find the first PNDs that dock with after-market car stereo head units to transmit spoken driving instructions through a car stereo system and in one case display maps on the head unit's larger display (see Car Electronics section, p. 148).
Dealers will also find new brands entering the market, including Porsche Designs and Fujitsu-Siemens. In fact, at least 18 suppliers entered the PND market in the past 18 months or announced plans to enter the market in 2007.
Their products and others will hit the market in a year that retail-level unit sales are expected to double to 5.2 million units after tripling in 2006 to an estimated 2.6 million, said Karen Rubin, Pioneer's marketing and product planning for navigation director.
Said Cobra navigation director Dave Marsh, "In 2007, I think we will 'cross the chasm,' as the phrase goes, where we cross from a market for early adopters to what is called an early majority."
Expected growth will also attract many new suppliers (see story, right) as it has many new retail outlets. Said Pioneer's Rubin, "Last year, key destination retailers may have been limited to national or regional electronics chains or online retailers, but in the fourth quarter 0f 2006, we saw PNDs in just about everywhere you might be doing your Christmas shopping.'' She specifically cited greater SKU selection in Wal-Mart and Target.
"Retailers are definitely expanding their selection, depending on their customer base,'' Rubin continued. "A retailer may carry about five to six brands, which could equate to at least two dozen SKUs.''
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.