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Motorola To Expand PNDs This Fall

Motorola, which entered the portable GPS market as a latecomer last fall, is getting aggressive in the market just as others are fleeing.

Where Sony, LG and others are not producing new models or have exited the personal navigation device (PND) arena, Motorola is expanding distribution, preparing for a fall product refresh and looking to apply its expertise in 3G and wireless technology to the PND.

“We’re absolutely making a bigger play,” said navigation product line manager Blake Bullock. “We believe we can bring something new to the table with Motorola’s vast experience in wireless connectivity. We have aspirations to do just that, combining the best aspects of 3G smartphones with PNDs and creating optimized experiences for consumers.”

The company is not yet offering product details.

Motorola believes there’s room for the PND to coexist with smartphones.

“There’s been a lot of press and analyst opinions about the notion of smartphones taking the market share of PNDs. I can totally understand that — Motorola is involved in both sides of that. We do feel that portable PNDs are more optimized for the in-vehicle experience and phones are more optimized for pedestrian scenarios like being in a city and riding the buses and trains,” said Bullock, concluding, “There will be a lot of crossover but there will continue to be distinct spaces — much as cellphones can play music but they are not replacing the iPod … so Motorola will participate in both aspects.”

In October, Motorola launched two PNDs — a TN20 and TN30 ($199 and $299, respectively) exclusively through 6,000 Radio Shack stores. The company is currently working with distributors and talking to retailers to broaden distribution, it said.

Motorola’s TN20 is a 3.5-inch model with text-to-speech pronunciation of street names, lane guidance, maps of the continental U.S. and more than 1 million points of interest (POIs). The TN30 moves up to a 4.3-inch screen, Bluetooth for hands-free calling, expanded map coverage of Canada and Puerto Rico, and 4 million POI.