GPS to Feature Prominently at CTIA

MOTO_Z9.jpgEngadget already has a number of reports from CTIA, the wireless industry’s largest trade show that’s starting today in Las Vegas. Dozens of new handsets are already being announced, such as the new Motorola Z9 on AT&T (pictured), which will cost $149 with a two-year contract, after the usual array of complicated rebates and discounts.

One of the trends to look out for this week is the emergence of GPS as a standard feature in dozens of handsets. In the Z9’s case, AT&T will be offering their new AT&T Navigator service, which is a simple rebranding of TeleNav’s excellent GPS Navigator voice-enabled offering that costs $9.99 per month to activate.

For a while now, Sprint has had the lead in GPS-enabled handsets, but look for that to change as the other three carriers all introduce more devices with built-in GPS radios. Some analysts are already predicting the eventual demise of standalone portable navigation devices. Currently, those units are still slightly better technically than the phone offerings, and require no monthly fees (although they have an up-front cost ranging from about $200 on up.) But it’s looking more and more like that will change over time, as consumers look to consolidate the number of devices they carry.