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  Google Maps Navigation

Google’s just-announced Android GPS navigation app is more than just impressive - it’s actually quite awesome. But right now, it’s just for Android (and only on Android 2.0), but it’s still awesome. The Google Maps-integrated satellite navigation app brings Google Maps’ satellite view to navigation, as well as Street View for snapshots of interchanges, intersections, and your destination. It also leverages Google Search with intelligent voice recognition to find your destination, even if you don’t even know where it is. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free?

So, how about other platforms, Google? We obviously would love to see this awesomeness make its way to webOS, but we all know that there’ll need to be more webOS users to justify the programming investment. But what about that other big advanced smartphone platform? Yeah, Apple iPhone. Google says it could happen, so long as Apple is willing to let it into the App Store. You know, like they did with Google Latitude and Google Voice. Oh... wait. Nevermind.

As for webOS, something like Google’s navigation app could be done for webOS, probably even with the current HTML/JavaScript/CSS Mojo SDK. But we doubt it’d be pretty - think about how much the phone seems to struggle with a Calendar app built on the same tools. For an app that requires such heavy lifting we’ll need a better SDK, preferably with native code access so rich applications like this can be brought to webOS devices.

But what does that mean for other GPS providers? As Engadget noted, the game has changed and traditional GPS device providers like TomTom and Garmin took a huge hit on the stock market on the day of the announcement. Not only do they make standalone GPS devices, but TomTom makes an expensive GPS app for the iPhone and Garmin just released their first Nuvi phone on AT&T. Even the Sprint Pre’s GPS navigation solution (Sprint Navigation by TeleNav) is a paid option, though it is included in compatible Sprint contracts. Will Google change the landscape of the GPS market? You bet.

When Google unveils something impressive (Gmail, Maps, etc) they tend to either dominate that arena or force other players to adapt to Google’s standards to survive. The question is how can TomTom, Garmin, and other GPS providers adapt to survive Google’s onslaught? It’ll be difficult - if Google Maps Navigation catches on like we hope and expect, they’ll have to overhaul their business model to something that requires minimal upfront investment from the consumer and recoups their investment from advertising. Is that something that they can manage? We’ll see.