March 5, 2010

TomTom - Fightin' Words for 2010

TomTomlogoLG.jpg

TomTom had their earnings announcement recently, but buried in the text are a few clues for 2010 that offer a bit of insight into what's up for the company. They announced that they will be looking at more accurate travel times and predictive traffic in some countries. They have been taking steps towards this for a long time.

  1. TomTom launches MapShare - TomTom starts with getting more accurate maps by crowd sourcing map fixes.
  2. TomTom Buys TeleAtlas - they now own their map source and start investing in more accurate maps.
  3. TomTom Captures User data from their trips - Result is more real-world trip data; IQ Routes is born
  4. TomTom Launches iPhone App - starts capturing travel time and traffic data
  5. TomTom Announces iPhone App ver 1.3 - Live Traffic on the iPhone

In their earnings announcement TomTom said:

Traffic information is a key investment area for us, as we know that our technology can substantially enhance accuracy and coverage. We will bring innovative, new product propositions to the market this year, such as predictive traffic information, in a growing number of countries."

It is unclear if TomTom will be using their partner Inrix for the data, or if they will be generating the information themselves through their network of GPS probes and historical information. It is not easy to do predictive traffic, as you need to understand historical speeds, as well as understand how accidents and the effects of those accidents and other effects like storms, large gatherings and special events can change traffic flow. Inrix has figured this out and also has very detailed coverage of secondary roadways in at least the US, and may offer similar quality capabilities in Europe where they have been making headway recently at data and client acquisition.

TomTom is also throwing down the gauntlet on the statement of quality:

"When it comes to location and navigation solutions, we are the only company in this industry fully focused on delivering an uncompromised consumer experience. By continuously enriching the granularity and completeness of our guidance solutions, such as by adding slope, lane and curve information, we differentiate what we can offer across the broad spectrum of our products and expand the available market."

Sounds like fightin' words to me. On top of that, I expect with that statement to see innovation in using additional map attributes to create new products this year. Back in 2007 when I went to visit TomTom, I rode in the TeleAtlas van and saw the future potential as they captured road signs, lane information and building image capture - all attributes that are used today in higher level navigation units with speed limit data, lane assist capability and in some cities 3-D drawings of buildings.

Back in 2007, TeleAtlas also talked about capturing information about lane position, and it seems like TomTom is positioning themselves to get into lane departure warnings too with their recent announcement. Never a dull moment in this field and ripe with innovation potential.


Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 2, 2010

TomTom Bringing HD Traffic to iPhone - Ver 1.3

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TomTom is making the move into connected traffic services for their iPhone application and its release is just around the corner. The HD Traffic option will not only add higher definition traffic reporting, through high quality updates of traffic flow and incident reporting, but also offer insight into accurate duration of your trip, and alternate routes. The big question will be how detailed the reporting will be on smaller side roads. Without traffic reads on side roads, many navigation systems will erroneously recommend a "faster" route on the the side road that is actually clogged worse than the highway.

Press Release is below.....


A number of new services and features are coming soon to the TomTom app for iPhone, including TomTom HD Traffic for real-time traffic speed and incident reports, and Local Search powered by Google. The latest update to the TomTom app for iPhone (version 1.3), which has been submitted to Apple for review, will offer these and other soon-to-be-announced enhancements to ensure an optimal, and even more intuitive, navigation experience.

"TomTom is fully committed to offering TomTom app users the services and features they demand most," said Tom Murray, vice president of market development for TomTom Inc. "The latest update to the TomTom app for iPhone offers our highly sought-after real-time traffic service option, enhanced point-of-interest search capabilities and a wide range of other features."

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 19, 2010

Update Your Garmin and TomTom Maps? Lifetime/Regular Map Upgrades

Got Maps? Well eventually you need to upgrade your maps and I want to explain a couple of options I like that get you updated maps almost all the time.

Garmin

Garmin has a lifetime map upgrade for North America at a $95 price point. Sure it's a lot, but at about $50 a year, this is a pretty good deal to keep your GPS updated for the long haul. The $95 gets you updated maps about every quarter for the lifetime of the device that you register it with.

There are no monthly fees or continuing maintenance costs; you pay only once per Garmin GPS. When you want to update your maps, connect your device to your computer and log into your myGarmin account, where the latest map data is ready to load to your individual device. We're constantly gathering new map data, and a new update is available up to four times per year. Sign up for our email notification, and we'll email you when the newest data is available.

Garmin nüMaps Lifetime North America Map Updates

GarminnuMaps.jpg


TomTom
TomTom takes a slightly different approach - they give you quarterly updates for $9.95, or less than $40 annually. This deal is also pretty good, as you start to add it all up. The offer is good on one device. From TomTom:

How does it work?
  • Each time you connect your device to your computer, TomTom HOME will let you know if a new map is waiting for you.
  • New maps are released each quarter and are added to your account as soon as they are available.
  • Warning - Map Update Service starts with the latest map, so you may have to upgrade your map at a discounted price

TomTom Map Update Service

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 31, 2010

TomTom Ease GPS; Simple Navigation - Now Shipping

TomTom_Ease_GPS.jpg

The TomTom Ease, announced at CES, is now shipping from Amazon, available in a Red bezel. The Ease offers a redesigned interface to put a lot of information at your fingertips, with a quick Plan Route and Browse Map pair of icons to make the decision process pretty easy. I mean how many people start up the GPS and right away think, "Hey, I want to change the map color scheme?" Not many - almost everyone wants to see where they are or program in where to go.

There are other smart icons at the bottom, including flipping to a night view (or back to day view) and an options button where you can play with settings.

At Amazon the TomTom EASE

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 26, 2010

TomTom Chief - Good Margins Ahead

Quick post - TomTom CEO was quoted recently indicating that margins are still reasonably strong and that the TeleAtlas investment is starting to payoff, as margins for standalone units are about 40% while the mapping licenses are at about 50%. You have to be relieved at this last part - it wasn't long ago that a lot of people thought that TomTom was dead in the water and barely squeaking by under the burden of debt that the TeleAtlas deal brought.

ReadMore on TomTom

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 7, 2010

TomTom Lifetime Map Updates - Future Models

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TomTom announced that they will include lifetime map updates on a range of GPS models that are coming in 2010. That's the good news; we'll see what the price is, or which models it is incorporated into. I expect these models to be announced as a part of CeBit.

Map updates are consistently one of the things that I hear frustrates readers, and it's not surprising that TomTom is seeking to address the pain. Of course people want their maps magically updated while the unit sits in the glove compartment, but that technology hasn't been invented quite yet; you will have to connect to TomTom Home from your computer to download the updates if you want them. The updates are from TomTom's mapping company, TeleAtlas, and is a sure sign of them leveraging their own map company. The updates are officially released quarterly.

Full press release is below....

ArrowContinue reading: "TomTom Lifetime Map Updates - Future Models"

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

TomTom Lifetime Traffic Service Announced - Future Models

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TomTom announced that they plan to offer Lifetime Traffic updates in 2010 on their devices through a traffic receiver that is designed into the cord; nice to have it a part of the cord instead of a separate set of cables.

"Traffic is one of the most common inconveniences every driver experiences," said Jocelyn Vigreux, president of TomTom Inc. "Now, using Lifetime Traffic Updates, TomTom users can always travel confidently knowing they will be alerted to the most current traffic information."

"Users will receive traffic updates through a traffic receiver that is innovatively designed into the device's power cord. By simply connecting the TomTom device to the power cord, users will be automatically alerted to traffic situations en route, such as traffic jams or accident delays."

I would expect a new set of units to be announced as a part of CeBit in March, and this traffic feature will most likely an optional add-on for "T" models with Traffic; no I certainly don't expect this premium service to be free.

ArrowContinue reading: "TomTom Lifetime Traffic Service Announced - Future Models"

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

TomTom Ease - Entry Level GPS


Thumbnail image for tomtom_start.jpg

TomTom announced the TomTom Ease entry level GPS at CES, with a reasonable set of features, keeping it very competitive in its class. The TomTom Ease will have:

  • MapShare - TomTom's system for user fixes to maps
  • Easy Port - a compact and quick mounting system
  • Text to Speech - it says street names
  • Help Me Menu - quick access to information that you may need in an emergency
  • Standard size 3.5-inch screen and maps of the US

"The TomTom EASE combines quality, simplicity and style into one compact device," said Jocelyn Vigreux, president of TomTom Inc. "It's an obvious choice for drivers who want an affordable, easy to use portable navigation device with the most innovative map and routing technologies available."

This is the US launch of the previously announced TomTom Start that debuted in Europe last year.

Both feature a simple two icon start screen that gets you to maps or asks you where you want to go to.

No official word on price, but I would expect it to List for near $100+, and discount well below that. Availability is in "Early 2010".

(image above is the TomTom Start image from the Euro launch)

Full Press Release Follows......


ArrowContinue reading: "TomTom Ease - Entry Level GPS"

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 4, 2009

Most Traffic Jammed Cities from TeleAtlas and TomTom

TomTom is setting a foundation for its traffic expertise with some news out that it has been collecting traffic speeds for the last couple of years (not new news), and is starting to explain back a few facts about this compiled knowledge for our enjoyment. They are collecting information from mobile phones that are running their software and their GPS units that collect speeds and with your permission send that compiled information back to TomTom when the units are connected to your computer.

They defined congestion by looking at overall average speed within a city, not just looking at highways, but looking at all roads measured for congestion levels giving what they call a more accurate picture of the situation due to the more complete picture. What they found was:

  • Seattle, Washington is the city with the worst traffic in the United States, with an average of 43% of its roads showing heavy delays. Rounding out the top five cities after Seattle are Los Angeles (38%), Chicago (37%), San Francisco (35%) and New York (31%).
  • The "Bay Area" of California has the most cities in the top 30, with San Francisco, San Jose (29%) and Oakland (28%).
  • The most congested "corridor" is between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. About 36% of that area's roads, largely in Montgomery County, are congested.
  • While New York has many pockets of heavy congestion, the area also contains many major arteries for alternative routes. In fact, cities with fewer options for alternative roads were higher on the list.
  • The least congested of the top 30? Minneapolis, Minnesota. Only 17% of the roads in that city are congested.

Full Press Release is below....

ArrowContinue reading: "Most Traffic Jammed Cities from TeleAtlas and TomTom"

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 26, 2009

TomTom 125SE and 325SE - WalMart Black Friday GPS - Wonder Deals?

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The TomTom ONE 125SE ($59) is the Best Black Friday Deal out there in a standard screen GPS, bar none. TomTom has a history of getting a special edition out there for the holiday shopping season, merchandising the heck out of it and gobbling up sales at deep discounts.

Here's the run down on the TomTom 125 SE:

  • 3.5 inch touchscreen in a slim, lightweight device;
  • Preloaded maps of the US;
  • Spoken instructions, including "text to speech" for spoken street names;
  • Preloaded Points of Interest: millions of points of interest enhance the travelling experience and help users easily find gas stations, hotels, restaurants and more;
  • Award-winning Fold and Go EasyPort® Mount, that easily folds to fit in any bag or shirt pocket.

If you are curious about what the TomTom ONE 125 SE will perform like, check out my Full Review on the TomTom 125 - the addition of the Text to Speech will make the TomTom 125 SE a lot more useful.

The TomTom 325SE is the widescreen version of the amazing TomTom deal at $89. Again a rundown of the TomTom 325SE features:

  • Extra wide 4.3 inch touchscreen;
  • Preloaded maps of the US;
  • Spoken instructions, including "text to speech" for spoken street names;
  • Preloaded Points of Interest: millions of points of interest enhance the travelling experience and help users easily find gas stations, hotels, restaurants and more;
  • Award-winning Fold and Go EasyPort® Mount, that easily folds to fit in any bag or shirt pocket;

Good luck if you are going out to grab one of these at Walmart.

See my Automotive buying Guide - and learn about some key features that I think are worth investing in. Based on that, I would recommend paying the extra money for the TomTom 325SE above over the smaller screen TomTom 125 SE.

If you can't get these at Walmart, consider a few alternatives:

Standard Screen - Adds Text to Speech - OK Place to Start

Widescreen and Text to Speech - My Recommended Place to Start
Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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