June 8, 2010 in Navigation (E)
[prMac.com] Berlin, Germany - Upstart Berlin developers rock the billion dollar navigation establishment with the release of Skobbler, the first truly free turn by turn navigation system available to anyone with an iPhone.
If you ask fifty people what the most expensive mobile application they have ever purchased was, the vast majority of them will have the same answer - their navigation app. While games and entertainment apps engaged in a race to the bottom with more and more of them becoming either free or priced as low as $0.99, navigation apps from big players either kept their premium prices (e.g. TomTom) or lured customers with cheap entry apps that needed to be updated (e.g. MapQuest) or subscribed to (e.g. AT&T Navigator and MotionX) to be fully usable. Until now. A small firm from Germany has taken the open source mapping system known as OpenStreetMap and adapted it into a full-fledged turn by turn navigation system with voice directions ... and made it free.
How does Skobbler keep their application free? Through the revolutionary use of what has been called the Wikipedia of road maps, an open source map project called "OpenStreetMap" that has for years been allowing users to map their own neighborhoods and motorways to create a gigantic ever evolving source of mapping data.
OpenStreetMap has already more than 250,000 active mappers worldwide and has been increasing its members tenfold every 18 months since 2004. "It's really an amazing setup" said Marcus Thielking, co-founder and CMO of Skobbler. "If you find an error in the system, perhaps because of changed road conditions, you can report the change directly to the OpenStreetMap community from within the Skobbler app or edit it yourself by using one of the free map editors on the web. "
With Skobbler you will never have to pay for costly and sluggish map updates as you become the map updater yourself! The goal of Skobbler is to show what's already possible on the OpenStreetMap and engage the audience to further its perfection. With maps evolving at the current rate and more people editing their neighborhoods every day, the OpenStreetMap will evolve into the most accurate and up to date mapping system available to anyone, anywhere. "This is already the future of digital maps. And it will be the future of navigation as well," said Thielking.
The backlash from the established navigation industry was immediate and severe ranging from obviously fake reviews right after the app's launch to drastic price cuts in order to divert attention away. It's no surprise that the establishment is worried. In the wake of Google's industry-shaking announcement of introducing their Navigator software for free on Android phones in the US, skobbler has enjoyed great success and media attention in its home country Germany: The app has topped the iTunes navigation category for six months straight and sold more than 150,000 units (at an average price of more than $5) to date there.
Skobbler maintains that the app in its current form of functionality will remain free in the US. While there are a few companies now offering "freemium" navigation systems including AT&T's own "AT&T Navigator", they all have hidden costs tied to them in the form of a monthly subscription that is needed after a trial period or an in-app purchase to get a full . Skobbler is a free download that comes fully equipped with voice directions and turn by turn navigation that will be as free a year from now as it is today.
Skobbler runs on the iPhone 3G and 3Gs over the cellular connection and does not require Wi-Fi to operate. The app is small enough (2.3MB) to download over the air and is optimized for any device running OS 3.0 or later. The small install size saves you plenty of storage capacity to use for your favorite music, photos or other apps.
Skobbler's easy visual navigation interface runs in both 2D and 3D, and has both daytime and night time operating modes. Travelers on foot or bike can switch to the pedestrian navigation mode for direct routing.
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later
* 2.3 MB
Pricing and Availability:
skobbler US 2.1.1 is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Navigation category.
Berlin-based Skobbler has been independently developing navigation software for mobile phone platforms since 2008. Skobbler's management team have a wealth of industry experience due to their former management positions at renowned navigation provider NAVIGON AG, a company which was founded by current Skobbler CEO Peter Scheufen. Skobbler focuses on creating smart products for mobile phones which provide their users with both orientation and fun on digital maps. The Skobbler navigation app has been one of the top-selling applications in Germany (more than 150.000 sold) since its market launch. That makes Skobbler the top-selling navigation app in Germany. Skobbler switched to using OpenStreetMap data in March 2010. Copyright (C) 2010 Skobbler. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.