Investors fled GPS-makers’ shares today after Google announced it would offer free turn-by-turn GPS directions in its Android phones and as a service for other mobile phones, like Apple’s iPhone.
Garmin shares dropped 17% and TomTom shares dropped 21%.
What about Google’s shortcomings, like its inability to store maps locally on devices? Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has a nice rebuttal.
The biggest objection is that the dedicated devices store all the map data locally. That’s great, and I’m sure it’s essential for some people. But the writing is on the wall. Google is entering the field. Their service is going to be free. It is going to improve constantly. Surely, eventually, map data will be stored (or at least cached) locally on devices. Soon enough, Google’s service will be both free and superior. Garmin and TomTom are toast.