1 million iPhone 3Gs sold but no navigation app in sight

Apple already sold 1 million new iPhone 3G and the App store has already seen 10 million downloads over the week-end. It might sound impressive, but from a LBS perspective the launch of this App store is pretty much a non event. There are a few interesting location-based applications - but that’s really the usual suspects - namely: WHERE, Loopt and Whrrl (however there are already many critics about the latter, specifically about usability and privacy). The rest is very much “local search” oriented, pinpointing POIs on a map; basically some nice looking Google Maps mashups, but nothing really exciting yet. And if you are not living in San Francisco or New York City (like me and most of the rest of the world), a good part of them are useless.

So what happened to the 250,000 downloads of the SDK that Apple proudly announced early June? Work in progress, surely. As we know there have also been many questions whether Apple will allow turn-by-turn navigation applications on its device.

If Apple management of its LBS developers is as good as its press relations then we surely understand why navigation developers are not too much in a hurry to develop for this platform. After numerous voicemails and emails to Apple PR folks over the last three weeks we gave up about getting a formal answer from Cupertino on this topic.

“Complicated issues”

One of the latest, funniest things we learnt about the iPhone GPS capability is from David Pogue, a technology columnist at the New York Times (also the author of iPhone the missing manual): “According to Apple, the iPhone’s G.P.S. antenna is much too small (sic) to emulate the turn-by-turn navigation of a G.P.S. unit for a vehicle, for example.” But Pogue is a serious journalist, he did not invent this answer, he probably got it from Apple.

Apple product head Greg Joswiak finally said today to ExtremeTech that there are some "complicated issues" preventing driving directions apps at the moment. "It will evolve. I think our developers will amaze us," he said.

As it is today the iPhone is probably the first and only Smartphone that has GPS but does not accept turn by turn navigation. But iPhone owners have been living without video and cut and paste between applications for more than a year, they might live with GPS but no navigation for a while too…

Monday, July 14th 2008

Nav & Telematics | Sport and Outdoor | Location Based Services | Tech & Innovation | Market Data | Finance & Legal | People and Jobs | Voices of the industry | Press Releases