As Om Malik points out, turn-by-turn GPS navigation with voice guidance has come to Google Maps and carriers can't be happy about it. Who is even less happy? TomTom and Garmin. According to Google, less than 1% of navigation devices are connected to the cloud and ironically my TomTom Go 740 Live with Google local integration is one of these devices and it is limited - it really only allows you to query Google for local establishments and it does receive real-time traffic data.
As the video above explains, Google Maps navigation was built from the ground up to be internet connected meaning you can get the latest maps and business data automatically over the net without having to download new maps manually. Google touts lots of features which they say most GPS units don't have such as voice recognition, the ability fix spelling errors and of course infinite points of interest. Other benefits touted include the ability to navigate via search meaning you can ask your device to navigate to a museum with a specific exhibit.
Other benefits include real-time traffic data and the ability to choose alternate routes. The software also allows you to search for POIs on your route and you can also leverage satellite and street view as you navigate. By the way, I bet you didn't know some Google Street View data comes from a tricycle (pictured and courtesy of AP/MSNBC)
The video above also references the new Droid phone which has an available car dock which when connected goes into car mode which makes it easier to access features you need while driving.
Om is right that carriers are likely not happy about this new and free service from Google but I wonder if at the moment carriers aren't just more frenzied about not having the iPhone which includes tens of thousands of applications in its device ecosystem.
From Verizon's point of view, this new relationship with Google is a defensive land grab and will slow down the onslaught of the iPhone by making their devices more attractive and simultaneously cutting the legs off of Garmin and TomTom. It should be noted that TomTom does have a $99 iPhone GPS app which is pretty slick but can they keep this price point when the competition has a lot more features and is free?
Google's challenge remains, do they ignore the iPhone when they come out with leading edge applications like this one so they can artificially boost their Android OS sales or do they try to get all apps they produce to work on as many devices as possible so they can boost ad revenue? It has to be a constant debate for the search leader and for now, if you have an Android 2.0 device you can get a real nifty GPS app for free. What's not to like about that?
Oh, and one other point. If we have known mobile search is coming and will be he and Microsoft and Yahoo are trying to take on Google in this space and finally have an opportunity to become a leader in at least one niche of search, why haven't either of these companies jumped on this opportunity? Why is it that Google is the only company to take advantage of an opportunity we all saw coming. I realize Yahoo is trying and so is Microsoft but Google seems to be in a position to have even greater marketshare in mobile search than they do in PC search. And it seems unacceptable that the competition just let them take it so easily.