Navmii brings Sat-Nav to iPhone for €3.99, GPS race to the bottom continues

[UK] Following Google’s move to offer free satellite navigation in the US, and Nokia’s response to make its world-wide turn-by-turn solution also free, it was inevitable that other providers would join the race to the bottom.

That’s exactly what’s happened with today’s announcement that UK startup Navmii in partnership with map provider Automotive Navigation Data (AND) is offering an iPhone Sat-Nav solution – Navmii GPS Live – for the headline grabbing price of €3.99 per country.

Initially, it is only available in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, with France following on Monday. Navmii says, however, that the rest of continental Europe will be rolled out “within months”.

To put this into context, says the company, TomTom currently charges €69.99 for its iPhone app for France.

Peter Atalla, CEO of Navmii says in a canned statement: “With the launch of Navmii GPS Live, we are radically changing the cost people have to pay for fully functioning GPS Navigation on the iPhone. Turn-by-turn navigation has been priced far too high. Navmii GPS Live gives consumers turn-by-turn navigation on their iPhone for less than the cost of a paper map.”

But how so?

Navmii says that it’s negotiated a better deal with AND and does not have the hardware overheads of the traditional players. And while they don’t make mention of Google, Nokia and the GPS race to the bottom, they do say that they plan to charge for additional functionality – perhaps utilising Apple’s in-app purchasing – such as speed camera detection or the ability to find the cheapest petrol prices if customers want it.

In other words, think of this as more the first half of a freemium play. Which even before the race to the bottom begun, was where Sat-Nav was heading anyway — the basic technology becoming a commodity with add-on services on top.

As for Navmii GPS Live itself, users can search for an address by city, street, house or postcode and are given turn-by-turn voice directions. The app also provides information on the journey distance, estimated time of arrival, points of interest and live search for local facilities with integrated Microsoft Bing .