Chicago — Due to rapid changes in the navigation market, Cobra Electronics said it will exit the mass-market sector of personal navigation devices (PNDs) and focus on niche PND products with specialized distribution.
The company said it is ceasing all future development of mass market PND products because of rapidly declining prices. President and CEO Jim Bazet said, "Cobra has not achieved profitability in the mobile navigation category for several reasons. The competitive environment for portable navigation devices has intensified and thus further pushed out prospects for positive returns on our investment.” He added, “Drastically lower selling prices are being driven by the largest competitors attempting to gain market share, along with emerging players struggling for shelf space and exiting players liquidating inventory.”
Cobra said it will continue to support its PNDs currently in the market and will develop specialized products.
“We’re not leaving the market..You just won’t see any 3.5-inch TomTom clones from us,” said director of navigation Dave Marsh. Specialized products could include high end niche PNDs, and products for the trucking and RV markets, where Cobra is well-entrenched. Marsh also considers Cobra's current Nav One 5000 ($449) to be a niche product because of its 5-inch screen, larger than most PND screens on the market. The Nav One 5000, which also includes speed and red-light-camera location alerts, began shipping this fall and will continue in the line through 2008.
Research and development for niche PND products will also be shifted to Cobra’s overseas GPS companies from its Chicago headquarters.
Cobra’s business sector which includes navigation had a loss from operations of $2.4 million in the third quarter. The company said, the sector would have had operating income of $907,000 if not for the losses incurred in mobile navigation.
JVC this year also exited the PND market in favor of concentrating on in-dash navigation products.