Does the New iPhone Have Amazon.com Dumping Its GPS Stock?

Mere hours after Apple’s announcement of a new GPS-enabled iPhone, I received this e-mail from Amazon.com:

GPS

Is this in response to the new iPhone? Wouldn’t surprise me.

Amazon.com never ceases to amaze me in its responsiveness, flexibility, and willingness to try new things — even if a lot of them fail. Experimentation is so cheap on the web that it’s ridiculous that more firms don’t embrace it.


Oliver Townshend

Regarding expermination, I remember (the now departed) Byte Magazine's discussion of the issue many years ago. They had set up committees to vet and plan everything they planned to do, but found that every opportunity they saw they missed out on. They realized (too late) that they should have just gone ahead and done things.

Mark L

#14, the iPhone gets its maps from whatever data connection you have going. 3G is not the only connection it's capable of making; in parts of the country without this high-speed network, the iPhone can fall back on the lower speed and more ubiquitous EDGE network. Not as zippy, but gets the job done.

Dan

Agree with poster #12. Also, if this truly were an example of Amazon's adaptability, it would be a poor one. Rumors that the 3G iPhone would have GPS capability have been swirling for months. If Amazon were concerned about their inventory they would have been smart to cut prices before the rumors were confirmed and splashed across every media outlet's front page.

Katy

I think you guys are forgetting that Father's Day is this upcoming Sunday. GPS systems and other electronics gear are the new ties. I'm guessing that's what Amazon is basing its emails on.

igster

the problem with using an iPhone as a GPS is that the maps do not live on the phone. They're streamed via the 3G network. No 3g network - no maps. To get the maps onto the phone, you must purchase software navigation. From garmin, Mobile nav is $99.

B

Guillaume: They're not actually subsidized anymore. Apple has severed their revenue-sharing ties with AT&T. With this new arrangement, Apple makes a one-time profit on the same of the phone. AT&T is the one who keeps you hooked in with monthly (service) fees...

Ben

An interesting thing about the new iPhone's GPS capabilities is that the positioning technology is available to 3rd-party application programmers as well. Perhaps the more adaptible GPS manufacturers will start producing iphone software now.

Here's a free business idea for the commitment contracts: If part of my commitment to lose weight is to go to a gym, each day I do not go to the gym, my iPhone will know I wasn't there and will automatically email a list of friends or publish a notice on my blog that I failed to work out today. This could work with a jogging or bicycling commitment to, if my iPhone hasn't followed me to the preset waypoint along my route, off goes my failure notice.

Adam

I have had a nokia N95 for quite a while now with GPS and I still have and would always have a seperate GPS for the car. Unless the iPhone has a much better lock time than a car unit I expect it would be the same. GPS tell's you where you "are", but units such as the TomTom tell you "where" you want to go. I think thats a big difference

Guillaume Savard

Its heavely subsidise

Bob

I think it's more likely that the iphone announcement has brought gps more to the forefront of public conciousness and amazon is responding to that. Maybe they saw a dramatic increase in searches for gps devices in their store.

gwern

MRB: Well, it's not all *that* implausible.

Consider, what sort of chips and stuff do you need to make a GPS and an iPhone? You need a small case, a battery setup, an embedded computer to run the OS and user interface, some sort of abbreviated keyboard or touchscreen, antennae... They share a lot of the same requirements.

To turn the iPhone into a GPS device requires adding, what, a receiver for the satellites and making some software tweaks? And in return, you get the huge economies of scale the iPhone can command, the benefit of all the R&D plowed into the iPhone and its component (R&D a low-profit GPS maker may not be able to afford), and who knows what else - perhaps there are clever things one could do with cell towers which allow for cheaper GPS chips or no chips at all (if you have a cellphone antenna, can it pick up GPS signals and analyze them in software?).

tim

I got an e-mail this morning saying they've accepted the return of my Kindle and refunded me. Except I didn't return the kindle. Could that be in response to the iPhone too? :)

GS

In having worked with Amazon in a business setting - Their adaptability is something to watch...

Phil

I'm pretty sure there's no way Amazon has enough unreturnable inventory that it couldn't sell what it has before the market is saturated with iPhones.

Brad

Most stand alone GPS's range form $200-$1000 and the iPhone rings in at the bottom half of that. Plus you get phone, ipod, internet, camera etc with the iPhone. When you take all of that into consideration instead of buying them all separately its worth the price.

I've always been amazed at how much they can charge for GPS units, I've always sort of attributed it to the "cool and new" factor. Maybe this is the push needed to bring the prices down to where they should be.

John

MRB, the iphones will indeed be cheaper than many GPS models out there. The reason for this is that the iphone requires a 2 year contract with AT&T so it's heavily subsidized by that

Adam

I'm glad there's an iphone related post to respond to, because this is the one crowd that could possibly understand my dismay over the media's handling of the iphone "price drop." Virtually every major media outlet is reporting a steep price drop, but the actual cost to consumer is a price increase.

You cannot legally buy an iphone without a two year AT&T agreement, and the mandatory data plan went up by $10 a month ($240 over the course of the contract).

Shame on everyone (including this blog's host NYTimes) for reporting it as a price drop.

As for the cost of GPS units - Apple has not indicated that they will be bundling software that gives turn by turn directions, or other services associated with GPS units. They will certainly be sold on Apple's Apps store, but I have no idea at what price.

Doug

I got a similar message from Amazon this morning re: cell phones priced at "A Penny out of Pocket" (essentially free after rebate). Mostly new models, too.

MRB

I don't totally understand - is the iPhone to be cheaper than stand-alone GPS devices? How could that be?