Most office rivalries rise to a boil at conference tables and water coolers. At Google’s Boulder office, our grudge matches play out across topo lines. Last week, our third annual “Flagstaff Challenge” blasted off up Flagstaff Road, Boulder, Colorado’s signature hill-climb. Over 1,500 feet of elevation gain, the Flagstaff Challenge (mapped below) attempts to answer our office’s ultimate water cooler question – what’s really faster: two wheels or two feet?
As our route map shows, Flagstaff’s paved switchbacks criss-cross its running trail all the way up to the finish point, making this slice of topography perfect for an office grudge match between cyclists and runners.
And yes, a few folks from the Docs team even fired up spreadsheets to run statistical analyses on the finish times. After accounting for outliers (those un-named Geo folks who actually got lost!), it turns out that there was no statistically significant difference between the cyclists and the runners. That just means our office feud will have to simmer for another year; enough time to sharpen our fitness and also the Geo tools we use to share and analyze our weekday warrior exploits!
I very rarely drive to places unknown and thus am in little need of turn by turn navigation. Certainly not enough to buy a dedicated GPS device and not enough to warrant investing $99 in the iPhone TomTom app.
But it turned out that it was best for me to drive to Getlisted Local U in Grand Rapids this past week and since I was traveling solo I decided to use Mapquest 4′s iPhone app with turn by turn capability. I had 3 legs to the trip; Olean to a near in Detroit suburb, Detroit to Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids to Rondeau Provincial Park in Canada. With but one glitch, I can report that the performance of the product was superb… it reliably alerted me of upcoming turns, had very accurate maps and even went into a reduced volume mode when I was talking on the phone so that I could hear its instructions in the background
I can’t speak to its global use or even its value in far away places where road data is likely to be less accurate but as a general purpose tool it performed very well almost all of the time.
The one exception was when attempting to get onto the bridge to Canada in Detroit…. the entrance was under construction and between the GPS and the detour signs I was caught in an endless loop across the highway several times and not finding the entrance. When I finally saw a state road sign that read:
Follow the detour signs NOT your GPS (idiot was implied) I realized that Mapquest was not the only GPS experiencing the problem. The mass of cars of which I was but one, seemed to be guided by the same bad instructions, and all successfully made it onto the bridge and into Canada.
As smart phone penetration has reached such high levels and the quality of free turn by turn products hits “good enough” levels, the role of the low end dedicated GPS devices will continue to decline.
The market is reflecting this reality. TomTom bought TeleAtlas for $8 billion several years ago. The combined company is now worth a fraction of that and things don’t look rosy for them going forward. Certainly a $99 app isn’t going to save them.
With Google going their own way on map data in the US and Bing partnering so closely with Nokia, the opportunities for TomTom/TeleAtlas seemed to be dramatically diminished in the low end. Its not clear who would want to buy the combo either.
Every day, we hear from customers around the world who are using Garmin products to explore more or just add a little fun to their everyday pursuits. We also receive stories about how our products have helped save or change lives. Recently, our in-house video team captured a few of these stories, straight from the customers. Hear howForerunner helped Jason discovered a life-threatening heart condition. How Garmin marine electronics helped Capt. Frank and his crew navigate stormy seas at night. How nüvi got Jeff to the hospital as he was having a heart attack. How Garmin avionics with Synthetic Vision technology guide organ procurement missions at all times of day and night, in all kinds of weather. And how our Rino two-way radio/GPS units help Heart to Heart International provide medical relief and humanitarian aid in response to disasters like the Haiti earthquake. Thank you to these individuals and our customers around the world for your faith in our products and for sharing your stories.