GPSMAP 640 released--276C et al replacement.

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by v8dave, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. BurnieM

    BurnieM Nipple boy

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    Strongly recommend that you take a breath;

    The GPSmap 620/640 is NOT a GPSmap 276C/376/476 replacement.
    It IS a large screen nuvi.

    If you buy this unit expecting similar technical features to your 276 then you will be seriously disappointed
    .
    #61
  2. MotoJim

    MotoJim Been here awhile

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    Well it is a Marine product. They just steal funtionality from the automotive division. Offroad/Adventure riding isn't on anyone's radar map at Garmin now.
    They are looking for ways to reduce cost everywhere. Innovation will be focused on the larger demographic sectors.

    At least for now, they are still selling the older good products. Buying a spare isn't a bad idea.

    Jim
    #62
  3. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    OK - I've taken a breath now... :csm

    Agreed - in terms of functionality - it is essentially a large-screen nuvi with a built-in marine map. BUT - that's not how they market it. They offer plenty of nuvi models at lower price points with simple features and functionality. However, the ~$1,200 640 IS positioned as a replacement for the 478 and that's how the Garmin sales force touts it. Like the 478, it IS categorized as a chartplotter that also supposedly goes from "sea to land" for water/road warriors.

    Uhm - I believe I made it pretty clear in my post that I will NOT buy this unit, but I am seriously disappointed with Garmin's apparent change of direction for the worse: no longer building cutting edge, innovative GPS products, not to mention their rapidly declining customer service and technical support.

    My point is that, with GPS technology having become as ubiquitous as it has - in the sense that almost every smartphone now includes it - I'm dismayed at how Garmin is evidently making their products dumber, rather than competitively differentiating themselves by attempting to retain the leading edge of product innovation and feature richness. I'd rather use my iPhone's GPS/Map over any nuvi, for example - it pretty much does everything a nuvi can do, but also includes internet access for more comprehensive search functions and perpetually updated, over-the-air mapping. Regrettably, if they remain on their current track - they will go the way of the dinosaur very soon.
    #63
  4. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    Garmin is catering to the lowest common denominator- the non-tech savvy auto GPS user. I would guess that they sell several magnitudes more Nuvi 200s than they do GPSMAPs and chartplotters. They follow the money...

    The unfortunate part is they've teased us with features we know they're capable of providing in some of the older models, deciding to remove functionality in newer.

    MotoJim had it right...

    Look at the development of MapSource and RoadTrip as a perfect example. This software is not typically used by Nuvi users so the user base is limited. It doesn't get the attention and resource allocation it desperately needs. MapSource hasn't changed significantly since the early days and as a result is buggy and feature limited.

    But... nobody comes close to competing with Garmin on any front, so either live with it or do without :(
    #64
  5. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    Right - but that lowest common denominator class of users will not provide bread and butter to Garmin for much longer, as that lowest common denominator of features/functionality will be included in virtually every new phone device and/or every new car that gets released from here on. Soccer moms won't want/need nuvis for long, once they learn how to use that basic GPS functionality on their phones.

    Point being: IMO, Garmin's future as a GPS device producer MUST re-think this "mass-market" strategy - raise the bar and cater to more specialized users - or they will die...
    #65
  6. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    I don't think it's quite that simple. Despite what Apple wants you to think, most people do not have an iPhone. Also, the screen size alone is probably the biggest differentiating factor. While having a fully-featured navigational system in your smartphone is a neat idea, I don't think it's a feature that most people will take advantage of.

    They started out in the specialized market, realized the auto market was much more lucrative and the rest is history... As much as I'd like to believe it, I can't see them going back to their roots. In fact, quite the opposite, they might just cut it off entirely.
    #66
  7. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    I think it is that simple - since you've already simplified their marketing strategy as purely a mass market one. I'm not only addressing iPhone - any smartphone (BlackBerry, Palm, et. al) includes, or soon will include, the nuvi-like feature/functionality. And so you're suggesting that Garmin's entire market positioning and competitive differentiation boils down to...SCREEN SIZE?! It's brilliant market strategy and business sustainability will be as a screen size marketer? Not viable over the long run, IMO.

    IOW, if I understand your hypothesis on Garmin's business plan, soccer moms (using that segment to denote generic mass market users) will buy/carry/charge/maintain a separate GPS device when their smartphones and/or hybrid minivans have the same functionality built-in (actually less without an internet connection), simply because the separate device has a screen a couple of centimeters larger? And oh - by the way, Garmin doesn't manufacture their own VGA displays. Hmmm...if I'm on Garmin's Board of Directors, I'm VERY worried about that business plan... :scratch

    Again, if you're talking about an unsophisticated mass market user that simply needs to get from here to there, I disagree - it's only a matter of learning curve and form-factor adoption. If there's a need for a navigation aid, as opposed to simply having another cool toy, the excitement for which will quickly wane (i.e. nuvi), having that aid conveniently with you on one device that you're always carrying anyway just makes sense. How many folks, who have even a basic level smartphone, carry around calculators, pocket electronic dictionaries and travel clocks these days?

    Sophisticated and/or specialized users on the other hand, like many of us on this forum, WILL invest in a separate device - which is the market segment you note below that Garmin will likely "cut off entirely."

    Right - but markets evolve and/or change completely - good technology invariably becomes ubiquitous and successful firms that were significant players in the game either adapt or die. In this case, the mass "auto market" WAS lucrative, until the issues that I raise have, and will rapidly continue to, provide a demand substitute for a specialized device like an archaic nuvi.
    #67
  8. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    You make several valid points, but I don't want to go on ad nauseam about what Garmin should and shouldn't do to keep me happy. They do what they do to keep their shareholders happy. I've only speculated from the sidelines as to why they're doing what they're doing.

    Back on topic, there is no technical reason why Garmin has to impose such limitations in the GPSMAP 640 as they have, not to mention such an artificially inflated price tag ($1199.99 USD MSRP; who are they kidding?). They are protecting their market so you have to buy another device instead of having the "one size fits all" GPS.
    #68
  9. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    Agreed - the 640 in its current form - SUCKS. :freaky
    #69
  10. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    That's correct Jim. But unlike the nice execution of that strategy with the 478, they didn't steal enough automotive functionality with the 640 - which they so easily could have done. If they had, it would have offered a nice migration path to their new platform for users like us (stickier users, btw, with a higher willingness-to-pay) AND would have enabled both existing and new customers to justify the $1,200 price tag.

    I am completely baffled as to what minute niche of the market the 640 is aiming to capture and what the size of that market segment is. :scratch
    #70
  11. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I'm another that won't upgrade anymore but more for the simple reason I'm tired of dealing with Garmin's sub standard quality. My 478 is a basically a pile of shit. I'm on the third one since I bought the thing 3 years ago. The last replacement the battery stopped holding a charge after 3 months. Amazingly enough, my Zumo has worked rock solid the whole time and I use it most of the time since aside from dirt bike riding the 478 is useless as a working GPS. It's nothing more then a w/e toy.

    I'm hoping that one of the other manufacturers comes out with something that has the features and usability of the Garmin's, because I would buy it in a heart beat instead of giving Garmin another penny of my money. Until then I'll just make due with the ones I have, which regarding the 478 probably isn't much longer considering how incredibly unreliable it is.
    #71
  12. Gros Buck

    Gros Buck Beef = Packed Vegetables

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    I hear you Albie.

    Same here ...

    Third 378 since 24 month. I give up and go back to paper maps. I just do not see myself spending $1000 every year what is in fact a "pay for a service" Garmin junk.

    For your Zumo. Let me tell you you were lucky. Now here me. Nobody in my bunch of rider have replaced less than three times its Zumo. Nobody. I'm talking here about 20 owners. The only Garmin prodcut i'm aware of that seems to last is the 60 ...

    Garmin = Junk. Period.

    Now if i'm to buy a junk product I'd prefer to pay Chinese's prices.

    Paul Jr oO 8
    #72
  13. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    Wow - my 478 is rock solid - I absolutely love it, though I wish they would update the old 12-channel radio with the newer higher sensitivity radio and maybe a larger screen while they're at it. Wait - that sounds like a 640! Nah - never mind, the brilliant product marketing fools took the tracks and XM Weather away in Automotive mode on that one... :nah

    Regarding your 478 battery problem, there has been an ongoing firmware issue with the battery charge indicator, which often shows less than a full charge, even when it is actually fully charged. I frankly don't understand why the problem is so difficult to fix - they've released 2-3 firmware updates all of which were supposedly resolving the issue, but none of them have worked successfully. I just let it run out on battery once/month or so to clear the battery memory - then charge it up again fully and everything reads good for a while. So was your battery problem actually a bad battery or could it have been this known issue?
    #73
  14. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Well, when I bought a replacement battery that one works just fine. the other one I ran completely dead 3 times and it never would take more then a half charge and would last maybe 4 or 5 hours on that charge.
    #74
  15. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Funny thing is, the Garmins ARE Chinese. :lol3 Notice when you get a brand new unit the initial location is Taiwan. :huh

    I realize I got lucky with my Zumo, there's been a ton of people with issues with them. The only problem I've had is with the crappy mounts the Zumo uses.
    #75
  16. 10Cup

    10Cup Long timer

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    No wonder the Garmin stock is down over $100/share............hope they wake up before it is too late..........:huh
    #76
  17. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    Look at these figures:

    http://www.streetinsider.com/Press+Releases/Garmin+Reports+First+Quarter+2009+Results/4619563.html

    They're getting hammered... first quarter total revenue down 34% vs. same quarter last year. Automotive revenue decreased 43%. Interestingly, the outdoor/fitness segment was up 18%.

    First time I've seen actual figures showing the breakdown... automotive segment made $260 mln in the first quarter and outdoor/fitness made $80 mln. Marine makes $38 mln. I believe the GPSMAP 276c is in the marine segment.
    #77
  18. PRW

    PRW living @ 11.5740741uHz

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    Precisely my point with my earlier posts. The general "mass market" for GPS devices is shrinking for Garmin, as the technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous in smartphones and PCs for mainstream users, who only need basic, nuvi-like functionality. The only way for Garmin to slow the bleeding is to adopt the polar opposite strategy that they're on, i.e. focus on, and delight, specialized market segments and users - like us, in order to competitively differentiate themselves and thus, command a more profitable, sticky and sustainable customer/revenue base. The 640, in its current form, is NOT that strategy... :nah
    #78
  19. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    I don't think either of our opinions/viewpoints were incorrect and certainly not conflicting.

    If nothing else, the GPSMAP 640 is a feeble attempt at putting bare minimum marine features (XM Weather and ability to load marine maps) in an auto GPS. If Garmin had actually evolved the 276c/376/378/478 line, we'd see a different (better) product- modernize the user interface, add touchscreen, SDHC card support, and maintain the existing featureset.
    #79
  20. Dolly Sod

    Dolly Sod Red Clay Halo

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    I think the 640 is still a good thing. Have you seen the prices on a 478 lately? :deal 570$ on Amazon. They weren't less than 800$ a year ago.
    #80