When the Motorola Droid, the first Android 2.0 device, was released back in November, one of its most rightfully buzzworthy features was Google‘s brand-new Maps with Navigation. It was unthinkable to offer turn-by-turn navigation completely free; dedicated GPS devices were (and are) still the norm, and the few smartphone apps are generally extremely expensive, with a monthly fee. And yet the Droid (and later, the Nexus One and Droid Incredible) offered it completely free. Garmin’s and TomTom’s stock immediately crashed, and Android users got their first big bragging point over all other competitors.
But it doesn’t look like Google is too intent on keeping turn-by-turn Maps an Android exclusive. At a London press conference yesterday, Google mentioned that Maps with Navigation will be coming to other platforms, specifically naming the iPhone.
Update: Google has officially denied the reports we cited, saying that while they did say Maps Navigation would eventually come to other platforms, they did not specifically name the iPhone–looks like that may have been hopeful speculation. As the iPhone OS is one of the biggest and most profitable mobile platforms in the country, we’ve got to think that it would be at the top of the list of “other platforms” that might see integration, but there’s no official announcement. So this remains speculation as of now.
It’s a move almost similar to Amazon‘s iPad app–both Amazon and Google have seemingly decided that getting their services to as many people as possible is the best way to grow the brand, and Apple‘s iPhone isn’t just competition, it’s a potentially valuable platform. iPhone owners should be excited, and Garmin and TomTom, who may have already felt heat in Europe, where mobile phone navigation is up 68% over last year, should continue being very, very nervous.