GPS Transformation – “High-Tech Rosetta Stone” re-shapes topography

Owen Shapiro and I just wrote an article and an Early Signals Briefing about the striking developments connected to the new generation of GPS tools and services that are exploding into the consumer marketplace.

Here are a few of the topline findings (which are based on data from phone interviews conducted by Owen’s research firm in early October 2007 of a national sample of 450 Americans):

  • Web-based mapping services have achieved striking penetration into the everyday lives of Americans and have eclipsed traditional paper maps as mainstream sources of information about the world. A strong majority (60%) report that they had used a geographic website (e.g., MapQuest, Google Maps) – in the weeks preceding the interview, twice the percentage that report using traditional on-paper maps..
  • New GPS-enabled personal navigation devices (PNDs) are leapfrogging past early-adopter growth and are surging almost directly into widespread, mainstream usage. Nearly everyone surveyed (94%) said that they have heard of GPS; almost one-third (32%) reported having used a GPS-enabled unit, including one in six (17%) who reported such use in the past month.
  • Look for pitched battles among incumbent (and newcomer) brands as they race for dominance in this burgeoning market as the GPS-enabled PND and consumer mapping marketplace roaring into a period of explosive growth.
  • GPS consumer-market turmoil is likely to gain energy as it continues to tap the “high-tech Rosetta Stone” qualities of GPS-enabled services, and the tumult could have significant spill-over effects on more technical, geographic information system (GIS) applications.

Here are a thumbnails of charts that illustrate a few of our findings (click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized graphic):

There’s lots more discussion and material in our article and in our “Early Signals Briefing on GIS/GPS.”

Here’s a link to the article, which was published on the Directions Magazine website on November 2.

Consumer Awareness Driving GPS-enabled Device Adoption

The Directions Magazine article was based on our “Early Signals Briefing on GIS/GPS,” which has numerous charts and more extended discussion that was not included in the Directions Magazine article.

You can get a copy of a PDF version of the Early Signals Briefing by sending an e-mail to

Finally, I’m also putting together a more extensive “Emerging Trends Report on GIS/GPS” that will significantly expand on the “Early Signals Briefing.”

You can get a copy of the Emerging Trends Report when it is completed by sending an e-mail to that same address –

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