October 5, 2006

Editorial: 8 Things I would do if I were TomTom

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I thought I would write down a few of the things that have been nagging at me about how to improve TomTom and make it better. This isn’t a rant or a flame on the company; it’s just that I love seeing GPS’s adopted and used by new people, and I think that some of these ideas can help with the adoption of the products and the quality of what TomTom offers to the marketplace. If you have some ideas, I’d love to hear them; leave a comment. Here we go:

1. Fix the Mapping and POI issue - We’ve beaten this one to death, but simply put, it is the biggest issue holding TomTom back from breathtaking success in the US. No matter how successful they are, they haven’t met their potential until they can fix this problem. Word-of-mouth kills in the early stages of adoption (and we’re still in early stages of GPS adoption), and right now, when old streets or even old stores aren’t in the TomTom database, people shut down and the majority of people can’t deal (and won’t buy one for themselves). The good news is that TomTom knows this issue, and they are working on it. Great, keep going.
2. Automate Instant Map updates – You can do this through TomTom HOME right now, but do it through my PLUS service too. I’d love to see incremental updates on a regular basis that isn’t too intrusive (I am sure there’s a balance to be struck here), but roads change daily, and map providers get new information daily. The GPS industry needs to make this a continuous change process, not a once per year batch process. (Yea, this is on Garmin’s list too.)
3. Push the envelope on TomTom PLUS – One of the biggest opportunities is to differentiate the brand by the services that TomTom PLUS can offer. Every electronics firm is going to offer a GPS, and may eventually offer decent ones, but the scale of TomTom and a great PLUS service will create a lifelong bond with consumers. Can I browse the internet? Get my email? See the storm front on the weather radar superimposed on my travel route? Please can I?
4. Work with Wireless Providers to bundle data services and get costs down – If TomTom can push the envelope on the PLUS service, they need to make sure the majority of people can afford the download costs. Mrs. Smith in Iowa doesn’t want high fees on her mobile phone when she’s downloading email on her new fancy TomTom GO.
5. Price the TomTom ONE at $399 – You want to see the value end of the market flock to TomTom? Price it to win. I am sure that price is within reach, but just not at comfortable margins. Drive costs down with scale and blow the doors off. At $399, nothing on the market could compete with the price, offerings and quality of the TomTom ONE offering (as long as point #1 above is satisfied).
6. The TomTom One.five (1.5) – This is the Widescreen version of the TomTom ONE. This is really a call to flatten the line, all the way up. The Flat Form Factor is it; push the features into the flat form factor. Why would anyone want a GO 910 if they can have a flat version of the model?
7. Consumer feedback on Routing – Give me a way to either teach the GPS or have it learn from what I want or don’t want. “I don’t want to route through the crime ridden neighborhood”, “I like this particular shortcut”, and “That last route you sent me on was great!” (Yea this is on Garmin’s list too.)
8. Buy Dash – the recent announcement by Dash said that they planned on networking GPS units so that they could work together in a network effect to disseminate data on traffic flow on the roads. The issue is that they may not get the scale they need to get the network effect. TomTom can do that with their scale and might; so buy them. (Yea this is the same idea that I posted for Garmin, but the announcement was good, and I would love to see the technology work. With a larger company pushing it, it will have a better chance.)

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Posted by Scott Martin at October 5, 2006 8:15 AM

Recent Comments

Using my 910 in Juneau, AK, the unit went haywire. Spinning around, jumping to parallel roads, even with 4, 5 or 6 satellites. Any one have any ideas. Folks at Tom Tom had no idea.


Posted by: richard at October 24, 2006 4:35 PM
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