We’ve historically had these on-board, embedded nav systems,” Nixon said. “That’s just not going to cut it anymore. The game has changed and the bar has been raised by these always-connected devices that bring fresh information into the car.”
The chase is on for the fully connected car. Streaming Internet music sites through the car radio isn’t enough anymore. As more people use smartphones to traverse their daily drive, automakers’ pricey and profitable in-car navigation systems are threatened. The reason is simple: Many map apps are free while embedded nav systems run from $500 to more than $2,000.
Even more compelling is the emergence of social-networking map apps like Waze. “Wazers,” as the app’s 48 million users call themselves, touch prompts on their smartphone to report traffic jams and accidents and then the app re-routes them onto a faster path. Last month, Google Inc. (GOOG) outbid Facebook Inc. (FB) to acquire Waze Inc., paying about $1.1 billion for the app maker with offices in Israel and Palo Alto, California.
“If you have a choice between paying a lot of money on an expensive in-car nav system or a free app on your iPhone, which are you going to choose?” Di-Ann Eisnor, head of Waze’s U.S. business
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