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Poll: Are you for GPS convergence?

CNET editors want to know if consumers are ready for GPS in their cell phones, and other electronics or if they prefer them as standalone devices.

Nokia N95
Nokia N95 Nokia

I've had this question on my mind for quite some time now. Covering both GPS and smartphones for CNET, it's been interesting to watch these two areas of technology converge. More and more smartphones (such as RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8130, Nokia N95, and Samsung BlackJack II) offer integrated GPS, and it seems people want this functionality in their phone...or so I thought.

You see, back in early April, I attended CTIA 2008, and I participated in a panel discussion where we discussed the "next big thing" in the wireless industry. One of the topics we covered was convergence, specifically cell phone/GPS convergence, and we had several industry experts from Nokia, TeleAtlas, and Garmin on stage to share their thoughts. Now, with all three companies having invested quite some time and money into the melding of the two technologies, it wasn't surprising that they were all for it. However, we also conducted an audience poll where we asked the question: What will consumers most want converged into their cell phones? They were given multiple-choice answers--TV, GPS navigation, media player, or full Web browser--and could text in their vote. When we got the results, I was simultaneously surprised and not surprised.

Only 4 percent of the audience thought GPS was the next big thing for cell phones, while a full Web browser won overwhelmingly with 80 percent of the vote. I was a little shocked at the low number, but I've said it before; I don't think a majority of consumers are ready for the GPS-cell phone convergence yet--not when they're still trying to wrap their heads around standalone portable navigation devices. This isn't to say it won't change in the future, and I certainly see the benefits of having GPS on your cell phone. Just the other day I used my RIM BlackBerry Curve 8310 to find the location a restaurant to meet a friend, but will it take over the GPS industry? I say no way. I'm not just picking on GPS and cellular technology. I'm also weary, though a little less so, of integrating navigation into portable video players and conversely, I think adding multimedia capabilities to PNDs is a complete waste of time. (You can hear my rant about this topic on last week's MP3 Insider podcast.)

So all that said, back to the original question I had in mind. Are you for GPS convergence? Or maybe the better question is what will make the marriage of all these technologies a success and make you want to buy a converged device? I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this and want it to be an open discussion, so please share your comments below.

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