For centuries, paper maps guided our ancestors across the continents and seas, ensuring safer travels, economic booms and depressing family vacations. Yes, traditional maps have many virtues. But even Christopher Columbus couldn't get his to fold properly.
Since 2003, or about the time GPS units and smartphones began their march across the globe, paper map sales have been slumping [source: Rodriguez]. Washington State even stopped printing its state maps altogether at one point (although this was mostly due to budget problems).
It's tough for paper to compete with a gadget that provides turn-by-turn instructions on the fly. Of course, if a solar flare knocks out GPS satellite service and cell towers for months and the apocalypse begins, you may wish you'd held onto that old, worn out, badly folded paper map.