GPS Black Friday Deals Mixed

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New York - Portable navigation devices (PNDs) had a "schizophrenic" Black Friday, with some suppliers dropping to ultra-low pricing, while others exercised more restraint.

There were fewer deals from second-tier brands, leaving TomTom and Garmin in a pitched battle for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

TomTom was the most aggressive, offering a $59 special at Walmart and a similar deal at Pep Boys (after rebate), which shocked TomTom competitors and amazed analysts.

Heading into Black Friday, the lowest price on a TomTom was $119.

Last year, Black Friday prices were approximately $99 and $110 to $120, from TomTom and Garmin, respectively.

A Garmin spokesman noted, "We've always expected Black Friday 2009 to be very competitive, and it's indeed turning out that way."

iSuppli said this is the first year that a name-brand PND was the lowest-priced deal; usually second- and third-tier brands act as price leaders. "It's definitely a loss leader," said analyst Danny Kim of the $59 TomTom One 125 SE at Walmart.

"Clearly, this year's PND pricing is much more aggressive than last year's," he added.

ABI analyst Dominique Bonte noted, "I think it's amazing to see a $59 TomTom PND knowing the TomTom iPhone app costs $100."

However, Nextar business development and operations VP Andy Frankel said suppliers other than TomTom exercised restraint, although he called the TomTom special at Walmart "truly astonishing."

Nextar said it offered 3.5-inch PNDs at $69 after a $10 rebate.

Other rock-bottom prices included Cyber Monday deals on a Garmin Nuvi 205 at $89 and on a TomTom 130 at Newegg.com for $79.99.

The TomTom One 125 SE at $59 included a 3.5-inch touchscreen with preloaded maps of the U.S., spoken street names, millions of points of interest and a foldable mount. A second unit, the TomTom XL 325 SE, offering similar features but with a 4.3-inch screen, was also offered exclusively at Walmart for $89.  Both also offer optional traffic.

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