Will Apps Kill The GPS Portable? Garmin Says No

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At Sun 'n Fun, Garmin announced a new product that not-so-subtly acknowledges that the burgeoning tablet computer market represents real competition for Garmin's core portable GPS market. Garmin's new product, called Pilot, evolves the former Pilot MyCast product into a full-featured navigator for tablets with the look and feel of Garmin's GTN-series navigators and its some of its recent portables, such as the GPSmap 796. We asked Garmin's Jim Alpiser at the Aircraft Electronics show in Washington, D.C., if this signals the beginning of the end for big-ticket portable GPS. "We recognized that the tablets on the market today are very attractive for a lot of reasons. It allows somebody to, number one, to get a giant display in the cockpit and get charts on there," Alpiser told us in this podcast recorded at the AEA show. "But Garmin portable GPSs are still the most feature-rich devices that you can get your hands on and fly behind. I can show you a dozen different things you can do on a Garmin GPS portable that you still cannot do on a tablet device," he added.

Alpiser says the tablets are obviously capable products and Garmin thinks many pilots are choosing to fly behind both tablets and portables. Even though buyers are responding to tablets in droves, many still complain that they're too large for a small cockpit, while portables are optimized in both features and size for the cockpit. When we asked if Garmin has any major product introductions planned in 2012, Alpiser wasn't specific, so we'll be keeping our eyes open at EAA AirVenture in July.