Crossposted from another forum. Excellent reading material for GPS software makers. As a software developer of BlackBerries experienced in JDE 4.2 GPS/File API's, my comments probably carry more weight to GPS software makers than the average non-developer.
Originally Posted by blane64
I am not sure, but I think it is because BBs can not run apps and stuff off the SD card. So I don't think you can put a big map file on the sd card and then access it.
Not quite accurate. Apps have to be in main memory, but data can be on the memory card.
The GPS application (which can be the same size as today apps) can be in memory, but the GPS application can read from the memory card instead of over the wireless network.
Rove Mobile File Manager from Rove Mobile - Network Administration and Remote Access
is a third-party "File Explorer" for BlackBerry memory cards, is living proof that third-party applications can read & write to memory cards. I am a registered user. Open, Move, Delete, Rename, Create Folder, Edit (text files), etc. It is even a FTP and WEBDAV client too -- I can download and upload files from BlackBerry directly to/from the memory card!
And there are third party picture and music software that can play media off the memory card.
Nothing is stopping the developers of GPS software from creating software that can read directly from a BlackBerry memory card. I think some of them are just not seeing high profits yet because of market saturation & the fact that Google Maps / BBMaps are free and support GPS. For the price of "free", they are really good map software.
Because of the excellent "freebie" map software, the GPS software makers need to compete with the freebie software. Subscription based software can be very profitable, but again, there is starting to become market saturation because so many other BlackBerry users (like me) refuse to pay for subscription software. I think they can make MUCH more money if they offered a $100 software package that includes North American maps on a 2GB MicroSD card. This won't cannibalize the subscription market, but gain new users like me. Sign me up - I'd pay. At the moment, I refuse to pay for subscriber services and will get a TomTom or Nuvi device, unless I can turn my BlackBerry into the equivalent of an offline TomTom or Nuvi that I happen to carry all the time. You can bet that the profit margin is probably bigger on the software package, due to device manufacture costs especially with the massive price drops on standalone GPS units lately.
This may provide an incentive for one daring GPS company to release SD-memory-card based maps for GSM-based BlackBerries. I confirm that it can be done, they just need to be coaxed to actually do so. If you're an employee of a GPS company, please show this message to your boss. Right now, please. Find a programmer, pay them a couple month's salary, and you'll have pretty fast ROI.
Developer departments of GPS companies -- It's most likely fairly minor programming modifications to pre-existing OTA-map-download software, by moving the map cache from main BlackBerry memory (which is slow performing flash memory) to the SD card memory (on a high quality SDMicro, it can actually be faster performing flash memory), increasing the cache to 2 gigabytes and pre-filling it with entire North America, doing some performance optimizations to read a large database efficiently, then putting the cache data file on a disc (or download) to sell to BlackBerry customers who want offline map capability. Basically, the cache turns into a permanent cache that's prefilled with entire North America. That's only like 2 weeks of software development time, no? Even if parts of the computer code needs to be rebased/rewritten, it probably only needs to take more than 2 extra months at the most.
Marketing departments of GPS companies -- there are ways to market it. "NOW - GPS Navigation on your BlackBerry even while you're out of network coverage!"
I currently make a living as a mobile software developer (specializing in BlackBerry/WindowsMobile) and can confirm that this is possible with JDE 4.2 Java API's. Although currently on a contract at the moment, I can say that if one of them hired/contracted me, I can certainly improve the software and make it work off a memory card. I know it wouldn't work offline with Verizon units, but it definitely would work offline on 8110's, 8310's and 8800's even out of coverage. You don't even need a SIM card or even be subscribed to phone service! All the GPS-capable GSM-based BlackBerries can do GPS in offline. Some of them are just plain-jane SirfStarIII GPS chips.