EL SEGUNDO, CA – Since the start of 2006, awareness of GPS-based navigation technology has exploded into the public consciousness, moving rapidly from the “nice-to-have” to the “must-have” category, says iSuppli Corp.

The current star of the GPS market is the personal navigation device segment, which continues to develop rapidly as vendors cut prices to maintain their share of sales amid tough competition, the firm adds.

However, with PNDs now in the growth phase of their product lifecycle, prices have gone south, with the ASP falling 23% year-over-year in 2006, according to iSuppli. In spite of these dramatic price cuts, the revenue from PNDs is expected to increase by four-fold between 2006 and 2013, with manufacturers keen to get their hands on a $16.5 billion jackpot in 2013, the firm continues.

iSuppli estimates 40 companies now are offering GPS navigation capabilities on a range of products, from PNDs and embedded systems, to smart phones.

The navigation market used to be clearly segmented into two separate product families: embedded systems and PNDs.

The more costly embedded systems offer the benefits of integration with improved positional accuracy on a large dash-mounted display. PNDs offer most of the important navigation features on a device priced for the consumer mass market, iSuppli notes.

“The general interest in GPS solutions has created a third entrant in the market: the smart phone,” said Richard Robinson, principal analyst for automotive electronics at iSuppli. “Smart phones have the capability to offer wireless Internet connectivity, as well as improved positional accuracy in difficult geographic locations using Assisted-GPS.”

iSuppli expects shipments of GPS-enabled mobile handsets to reach 250 million units by 2010, up from more than 70 million units in 2006.

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