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Portable GPS prices dipped to $299 for the holidays from several brands, as expected, with isolated super bargains spotted at $199 or below for products using older technology.
First-tier brands have seen price drops anywhere from $50 to $100 during the Christmas selling season, with Garmin reducing the suggested retails of its high-end nuvi by $100. TomTom offered a $100 rebate on all models to bring its opening suggested retail to $399 for a TomTom One after rebate.
A TomTom spokesman said the rebate, launched Dec. 4, "was put in place in response to the great momentum we saw in the GPS category."
Lowrance is also offering a $50 rebate, for a net of $299, on its new iWay 250, said Lowrance automotive sales manager Jim Luetjen. Regarding holiday prices, he said, "There's no surprise at all from our standpoint."
Said Cobra navigation director Dave Marsh, "The price aggressiveness has been expected, but there has been more dumping of older product at low prices."
Several industry executives reported prices at $199 or below on portable GPS with older technology.
Street prices for Garmin's two-year old StreetPilot c330 as of Dec. 7 were as low as $299 on the Wal-Mart Web site, $349 at Circuit City and $399 at Best Buy, according to pricegrabber.com. For more recent products, Garmin's entry-level c530 was seen at $399 to $499 street prices.
One of the low-end models on Black Friday was a Mio C310X at $229 in a CompUSA circular, advertised as offering a savings of $120.
Said Crutchfield merchandise director Tom Bancroft, "I suspect some retailers were at or below cost for Black Friday. Some retailers are attempting to get a loss leader. The benefit of getting someone in the door early is that you get a first crack at their credit card and maybe there are other items on their list. But that doesn't work well with direct marketing; there's less impulse buying," he said.
Bancroft added, "I think we'll see lower retail prices coming out in January, roughly at the specials we're seeing now," which would put entry-level pricing in January at $299 suggested for second- and third-tier brands and roughly $399 to $499 for the first tier.
It should be noted that high-end models, including the Garmin nuvi 660 at a suggested $899, continue to rank among the top-selling products for the category, said Garmin. Jeff Kirshblum, VP atHarmony Electronics in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he is finding that "although prices have dropped, the bulk of the sales are still in the higher end units. What's selling is the more expensive units between $400 and $600."
Several new companies entered the GPS market this month and last, including Axion and Intellinav.
Axion, the portable device maker, entered the GPS market in November with a $349 unit, the Geo-632. It has a 3.5-inch color touch screen with preloaded maps, SD card slot, MP3 player, photo viewer and more than 1 million points of interest.
Netropa, a software company providing GPS software to Dell, HP and others, said it is offering its first portable GPS, the Intellinav One. The unit announces upcoming street names and has preloaded maps of North America, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on a 1GB SD card. It also has an MP3 player and photo viewer, lithium-ion battery and pedestrian mode. The unit shipped this month at a $499 street price.