It was only a matter of time, really, before Google Maps became a turn-by-turn mobile application. And now it has. Gizmodo has a good write-up on its features and abilities, and of course it looks polished even in beta form. (What isn’t beta in Google-land, besides GMail? Oh. Google Apps, actually, and a few other things. Drat. It was always fun to joke about how long things stayed in beta with Google. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to fall back on making jokes about how no one knows you’re a dog on the internet.) For right now, the application is available only to Android 2.0 users, but there are plans afoot to get it on the iPhone.
Anyway, what surprised me about the Gizmodo review of the application is this:
My fears on zero pricing, for the long term: If Google sells this in the App Store for zero dollars, those millions of bucks Apple makes off of GPS app sales will likely disappear. It’s not for us to worry about until there’s no more GPS competition except Google, and we’re dependent on their pace of progress, but no competition is a bad thing. And it’s a little strange that Google’s search money is going to pay for a free map app that is competitive with stuff that costs $100 a year from full-time GPS makers like TomTom. Unfair is the word that comes to mind. But I can’t say I don’t want this app.
I’ve written about my concerns regarding the freeconomy before, and this Engadget link essentially proves the point. TomTom’s shares are down about 20% as of the time of this writing, and Garmin isn’t faring much better, down about 15%. Free is nice and all, but it does have a cost.
(Sure, yeah, fine, in the long run all the buggy-whip manufacturers eventually ended up making something else, right?)