Farewell, Garmin; So Long, TomTom

Sat-nav devices are fast becoming redundant and this has made out our Automologist, MAC, just a little bit sentimental. The speed of chang...

Sat-nav devices are fast becoming redundant and this has made out our Automologist, MAC, just a little bit sentimental.

The speed of change has finally caught up with standalone satellite navigation devices (aka sat-navs) which seem to be going the same way as A to Z street maps—they are becoming obsolete, according to the John Lewis chain of retail shops, which has just announced that it will no longer stock them. And I presume the likes of Garmin and TomTom will have to try and reinvent themselves in the new app economy that has come to dominate the world in the past decade.

I remember family summer holidays when Dad was driving and Mum was navigating, and the arguments about which was the best way to go were interminable as we tried to reverse out of a cul-de-sac with a caravan on tow. I will never forget my father’s mantra “… the most dangerous thing known to man is a woman with a map…” and then the argument started.

Recently, I was driving my mother and giving voice instruction to the navigation app on my phone. She was in awe and I do believe that I saw the glint of a tear in her eye as she commented about how she wished they had existed when we went on family holidays…

It is just a few years since my brother turned his car around after twenty minutes of driving to go home and get his forgotten TomTom—that is how much these devices were considered essential car devices. But with the advent of smartphones and navigation apps given away for free by the likes of Google and Apple, the days of the standalone sat-navs were surely numbered and sales have been in decline for a number of years. Leading brand, TomTom, reported shrinking sales for around half a decade, and as apps took control, the car companies then stepped in and started to give the darn things away for free as well, as a part of the on-board experience. 

So, for those of us who were born in the map era and absolutely loved the advent of the standalone sat-nav, we now have one more thing—along with cassettes and CD players, and the London AtoZ street directory—to leave at home when we go on our family holidays, as the now outdated devices are listed as items being "left behind" on this year John Lewis's 2017 annual retail report.

And now, a MINI with a sat-nav built in. 

image credit: MINI


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