As satnav units continue to get cheaper, more sophisticated and more readily available, the use of personal navigation devices is set to surge by more than 50 per cent this year, new research shows.

Nearly twice as many (93 per cent more) satnav units were sold last year compared to 2005, research firm IDC said today, and the surge is set to continue. IDC expects the entire satnav market to increase by 53 per cent worldwide this year.

The UK and the rest of Western Europe are leading the way when it comes to personal satnav devices, with the US in second place. IDC predicts that outdoor activities and fitness will contribute to more specialised devices, which are likely to sell better than in-car navigation products over the next few years.

Satnav becoming more specialised

In its Consumer Navigation Devices: Finding Your Way study, IDC also predicted that content and services will be increasingly important as satnav makers try to differentiate themselves from each other.

"It's clear that services will become an increasingly important part of the navigation picture going forward as these devices compete with other consumer devices such as mobile phones," said Diana Hwang, research manager, mobility, at IDC.

"IDC expects overall consumer navigation device growth to remain strong as GPS technology and additional services become integrated into a variety of product offerings affecting the way consumers live, play, and interact in the future."