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PND Sales Fall Short 

1/20/2009 02:40:00 PM Eastern

New York — TomTom today reduced its estimate for total industry portable GPS sales to consumers in North America to 17 million, down from 18 million.

The announcement follows reports by Garmin and TomTom that industrywide inventories of personal navigation devices (PNDs) are high, following a lackluster fourth quarter that left retailers with stockpiled PNDs at all price points.

During the recent International CES, Jocelyn Vigreux, president of TomTom, noted, “Inventories are higher than we’d like them to be. It will take a little time,” before inventory levels are back to normal.

Jon Peckman, Garmin’s navigation sales director, expects this will require a month or more, most likely until President’s Day, to sell through inventory stock piles.

The statements come at a time when industry members and analysts expect fourth-quarter tallies will show flat or down sales against the same period in 2007, a sharp contrast to the meteoric 400 percent gains experienced during the 2007 final quarter over 2006, in sales to consumers.

Other signs of shifts in the PND market were apparent in recent weeks, including discounting and market consolidation.

Best Buy’s high-end 4.3-inch Insignia PND, which launched exclusively through its stores in October and offered live Google search at $499, has been reduced in price to $199 (model NS-CNV20). The 3.5-inch version is now at $149, down from its original $399 launch price. The company did not respond to a TWICE inquiry.

Sony said at CES it is not showing any new PNDs for 2009 at the present time. And Magellan was officially purchased by MiTAC, Mio’s parent, just days after CES. For its part, Mio is expanding into other GPS-centric products, including a netbook to retail for $299 in the fall.

ABI Research had predicted 2009 sales of 24.3 million units in North America on top of sales of 18 million for 2008. However, these predictions preceded the fourth quarter last year, and the company is expected to revise downward estimates in its February report.

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