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Re: [BMWMc] Garmin GPSes: 1 map product, on only 1 GPS

Hello Jean,

From: "Jean Lachaud" <jean@xxxxxxxxxxx>

Interesting. I've always wondered if I would need to buy a second CityNav
license the day I upgrade to a new GPS unit.

Actually, if you buy a new or refurbished unit, chances are that it will come with the latest data. Maybe. Garmin's latest policy is that if your fresh-from-Garmin product has outdated maps, you can get the latest ones for a $75 upgrade. Not a pleasant surprise. Caveat emptor.

Incidentally, all the "pieces of the puzzle" fit together to paint a picture of what is going on at Garmin.

5 years ago, I bought a new StreetPilot III for CAD$1,200, which included 1 unlock code for CityNavigator 4 maps. That unlock code equated to all of Canada, or a section of the United States. Additional unlock codes could be purchased for a pricey sum. The unit included MapSource desktop software, and matching data for my desktop, so I could do all my planning on a large screen, and then download it to the GPS.

As margins were healthy, with Garmin doing well on hardware and data sales, they could afford to appear "generous" by later allowing 2 unlock codes for the price of 1, which meant either a second region in the United States map data, or in rare circumstanced, the same data for a second GPS in the household.

Over the past several years, a number of things have happened. First, competition has heated up dramatically in the GPS market, which means that GPS prices fell, and variety increased. Garmin responded by lowering their prices, and making a wider variety of Garmin GPSes. The price of map data fell, too, so Garmin responded in kind, until eventually, a lower price got you all of CityNavigator North America data instead of just one region.

Today, Garmin sells their GPSes with "pre-loaded" data. This is perceived as a consumer advantage because you have nothing to load. However, it also represents reduced functionality for those in the know. Without an exact desktop equivalent of your GPSes map data and route planning/visualizing and waypoint management software, you can either make-do with the reduced functionality, or you can shell out more money to buy the functionality that used to be part of the Garmin package.

Today, a second unlock code no longer represents a "free" region. It most likely represents a person, who is unrelated to the map data's owner, getting a legal copy of the map data for free. And this represents a loss of a sale for Garmin.

For me, having 2 GPSes (StreetPilot III and soon, a factory-refurbished 2610) used to be a competitive advantage, because I could buy one set of map data, and both my wife and I could load it onto our GPSes. In essence, one Garmin GPS was getting free map data! Now that this is gone, it's worth my time to shop aggressively for alternatives outside of the Garmin family before I buy my next GPS.

-Steve Makohin
'01 R1100S/ABS
Oakville, Ontario, Canada