Are Outdoor Handheld GPS Devices About to Enter the Mainstream Market?

Several recent launches of new GPS handheld devices for recreational and outdoor use are confirming a new trend: GPS handheld devices are moving away from addressing specialized niche markets to target a wider mainstream market; users want GPS devices for general pedestrian use. While PNDs and handset-based navigation software have included pedestrian-type navigation modes for years, this has never addressed the needs of this segment. While there have been attempts by PND vendors such as Route66 and Magellan to stimulate the use of PNDs outside the car environment (by designing very thin, lightweight, or crossover form factors), PNDs remain reserved for in-car navigation. On the other side of the spectrum, GPS handheld devices have been popular in niche markets for outdoor enthusiasts, such as mountain climbers and hikers, and for geocaching. These devices were based on topographical maps and other features such as electronic compasses and altitude meters, requiring experience and technical knowledge. But all this is about to change.

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