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December 9, 2008

Navigating technology

LONDON, England – We got our first satnav back in 2003. It was one of the first affordable in-car units and served us well until we offloaded our car earlier this year. Since then, we’ve been without satnav. For me, it hasn’t been a problem. Since getting an N95 last year, I’ve become increasingly reliant on its navigation abilities and more than once it’s got me out of a jam (not necessarily a traffic jam, more a “where am I?” jam). Last week the next version of Maps was revealed and boy has it moved on since the original. Terrain, 3D view, faster, more points of interest, it’s now genuinely something dedicated satnav manufacturers need to start worrying about. But there’s one thing standing between me and dropping dedicated satnav for good. My wife.

She’ll openly admit she can’t read maps. It just isn’t part of her makeup. So, when it comes to finding places satnav is a revolution, a plastic-encased Godsend. This despite the fact that she’s not a big technology fan. It isn’t that she isn’t capable, simply that she doesn’t have the patience. Even though Nokia Maps is leaping forward on all grounds, it still hasn’t quite leapt into her conscience. She recently switched from a 6500 to a 5310 XpressMusic. Neither are GPS devices. She doesn’t want anything bigger, the slimness of both phones being her key attraction. Her sophistication has risen, in that her last two devices have been S40, a step up from her previous, more basic device.

So what’s next? We’re now faced with two choices. Bite the bullet and add a dedicated satnav to the Christmas wishlist or rush an upgrade and move Mrs BC onto a GPS-enabled device. That would most likely mean a switch to an Nseries (I’ve been eyeing the N79 recently, which is lovely in white, is super-lightweight and well specced) but I fear that is likely to be a leap to far for her right now. The alternative currently is a 6220 classic or 6210 navigator, but both are still too bulky to convince her to make the switch.

When the N95 was first announced the promise was made that the ground-breaking technologies it was packing, would eventually filter their way down through the eco-system and land in mid range, and later entry level devices. This is happening, but at a steady, rather than rapid, pace. So far the filtration of GPS has been limited to what is still a little over a handful of devices. Next year though, could well be the year we see massive breakthrough. Now that Nokia Maps has matured it would certainly make sense. Here is an app/service combo that is ready for the mass market. And the market is ready for it too. Specially my wife. Add the functionality to a device like the 6500 and we’d be looking at one more happy customer. Followed, no doubt by millions more.

Your thoughts, please?

Photo by PSD