The handy map store was in for a heap of trouble with the advent of global positioning systems (GPS), and when the handy little hand held GPS systems started to drop in price, map stores started to drop their prices and increase their services for the same prices. But now that smartphones have GPS location systems, GPS mapping systems and GPS locating systems (for finding lost smartphones, or lost people who have smartphones with them), the map store is in a heap of trouble if they intend to stay profitable.
With almost all of the newer smartphones having GPS, there really is no need for a paper map, covered with plastic or not. Anything that you can do on a map, like draw a line from where you are to where you were, and to where you want to go, the same can be done on smartphones with touch screen technology. The GPS that smartphones have can be overlaid on Google Maps, Google Street View and even satellite maps, street maps and any other kind of map available on the Internet.
Has GPS made the map obsolete? No, there will always be the need for maps, for the people who can not afford, or do not see the necessity of an expensive hand held GPS unit for their one camping, canoeing or hiking trip per year. And, there is also the cost of buying new, updated software for their GPS units, which cost significantly more than simply buying a new, upgraded map. For people who do not have smartphones (yes, they really do exist!), a map is still required to navigate their ways through cities unknown and roads not traveled.
GPS has most definitely made the map a non necessity, but there will always be purists out there who prefer a map and a compass to a small screen on a smartphone. The only drawback of the GPS systems is the small screen sizes, whereas a map can be as large as you want it to be. However, with scrolling and zooming in and out, the GPS is a far-superior mapping system, with frequent updates, traffic and accident updates for roadways, and even weather systems updated regularly.
GPS may not be killing map stores, but the technology is spelling the beginning of the end of the inner-city map store in North America, where the majority of sportsmen have either a GPS, or a smartphone with a GPS application (app) running in conjunction with a mapping system. However, until GPS and smartphones start getting full-world coverage, there will always be a need for a map when traveling off of the grid.
Travel safe. Travel informed.