Is the GPS Golden Age Already Over?

| About: Garmin Ltd. (GRMN)

GPS-maker Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) is getting smoked today in the markets on news from Harman.

While I briefly owned Garmin's stock after its eons-ago IPO, I haven't held it since, much to my chagrin. Why? Because even if, as a male, I don't need directions, I understand that there others out there who do, so portable nav systems are awesome things -- and they have only gotten more awesome over time, as has been reflected in Garmin's stock rise.

Let's summarize the main non-Paul, non-industrial GPS device markets:

  • In-vehicle: heads-up nav systems for cars, etc.
  • Personal: Wearable nav devices, like Garmin's Forerunner 405
  • Recreational/outdoor: Boats, hunting, etc.

So, what is going to happen to those markets going forward? None of 'em are going away, even if they have varying respective appeal. But I am increasingly convinced that GPS-enabled cell phones -- with adequate software -- will do to standalone GPS devices what cell phones have already done to wrist watches.

I played with an LG Voyager on the weekend that does nice, live turn-by-turn directions, and something with better software -- like say, a new iPhone with functioning GPS -- would be a major short trigger for investors in incumbent GPS vendors.