Shares in leading GPS makers such as Garmin and TomTom plunged yesterday following news that Google is to include a navigation application as part of its new mobile operating system, Android 2.0. According to a Dow Jones Newswires report, shares in Garmin fell 17.2 percent to US$31.88, while TomTom shares fell more than 20 percent to EUR8.11, a new 52-week low. Google had earlier said in an official blog posting that Google Maps Navigation, which provides turn-by-turn directions based on up-to-date maps and business listings from Google Maps, would be made available on its new platform. While GPS systems typically cost upwards of US$100, Google Maps Navigation is likely to be offered as a free feature on new Android phones.

It was separately announced yesterday that US mobile operator Verizon Wireless is to begin selling Motorola’s ‘Droid’ handset (pictured) – the first to run Android 2.0 – from 6 November. The device will retail for US$199.99 with a new two-year contract after a US$100 mail-in rebate. The device is being positioned as major competitor to Apple’s iPhone, which is exclusively offered in the US by Verizon’s main rival, AT&T. Verizon has been promoting the device in a series of advertisements that target purported deficiencies in Apple’s iconic device. It remains unclear when Droid will be available outside of the US. “We’ve not yet announced availability of this device in other markets, but look forward to continuing to expand our Android base portfolio around the world,” Motorola said in a statement.