Recently, while reviewing the new Audi A4, I volunteered to drop my teenage cousins to the New Delhi Railway station. Lost in the maze of the Connaught Place area in central Delhi, I tried using the car’s navigation system. Test car as it was, the system just didn’t work. To my surprise, in a few seconds, these two guys were navigating me with the help of their smartphones, and quite effectively. The point I am making is that the use of navigation—be it via smartphones, in-built car navigation devices or portable navigation devices (PNDs)—is becoming very popular, and across all age groups. Add the fact that we are getting ever-more detailed maps on these devices.
But if I am the only person in the car, I won’t, shouldn’t actually, rely on my smartphone for navigation. Therefore, my choice gets reduced to in-built devices or PNDs. But, remember, only the premium cars come with in-built devices, so if I drive, say, a sub-R10 lakh car, the only option I have is PNDs—a market that is booming of late.
The need for a PND becomes all the more important in a country like India where new roads, highways and landmarks are built regularly and older roads get additional roundabouts, lanes and one-ways. Sanu Vasudevan, country sales manager, consumer business, TomTom India, says, “We have observed that Indian land routes undergo upto 30% change annually.” He adds that the although the popularity and awareness of PNDs has increased significantly over the last few years, the industry is still to achieve the required momentum. “Industry experts expect this segment as one of the key influencing denominators for the automobile companies in the years to come. And the automobile companies, realising the value of navigation devices, are promoting these in their marketing campaigns as well,” he says.
Rohan Verma, director of MapmyIndia, which has been in the navigation business since 2007 and which offers customers regular map updates with value-adds like house-level search, 3D navigation, city guides, etc, says that navigation has picked as a sector, be it cars, phones & tablets (navigation apps) or PNDs. MapmyIndia recently launched, what it claims, India’s first connected in-car Android-based navigation tablet CarPad, which has been received well by the market.
On the penetration of PNDs in the country, TomTom’s Vasudevan says that although the major penetration of PNDs is currently confined to Tier-I and Tier-II cities, it is only a matter