To many device manufacturers worldwide, the arrival of the mobile phone marked the end of an era and soon, Garmin, TomTom, Navigo and others may join them as Nokia announced that it would be giving away free satnav application to all its smartphone users.
Not surprisingly, both TomTom and Garmin saw their share prices fall significantly today. The first one slipped by more than 10 percent after losing nearly 20 percent at one point while the second is currently down by nearly 5 percent.
Both manufacturers, as well as a slew of others, have been enjoying strong sales of standalone satnav devices for the past few years but have failed to predict what hit them today. Mobile phones have evolved from being mere call devices into fully fledged computers.
Smartphones have killed voice recorders, stand alone personal digital assistants, MP3 players and have had a significant impact on the sale of digital cameras in general.
As location-based services have become increasingly important, it was only a matter of time before GPS-equipped smartphones take on dedicated Satnav devices like the Garmin Nuvi range.
Nokia is only following the lead of Google whose latest OS has also introduced a full turn-by-turn navigation Satnav service in its US-based Android phones.
By this time next year, it is likely that Apple will have purchased one major Satnav company (why not Tomtom) to integrate location-awareness characteristics into its range of products.
Ultimately though, Satnav manufacturers are guilty of not having been enough paranoid. They saw the invasion of the mobile phones on their pitch coming. Garmin even had the excellent idea of launching a mobile phone in collaboration with Asus as early as 2008 but this device, which was exceptional two years ago, has yet to appear.