TomTom 'Goes Live' with New Devices, Services to Stay Ahead of Smartphones

Personal navigation device (PND) maker TomTom (which recently completed its acquisition of TeleAtlas) introduced a new series of "GO Live" devices and services earlier this year. Those will become available in selected European markets (UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and Switzerland) shortly. TomTom is teamed up with Google to provide local search results on devices as part of that larger suite of services.

Before TomTom, Dash partnered with Yahoo to deliver local search results in car. One of its more innovative services, TomTom allows users on the road to correct maps and incorporates those changes and corrections into its network for all users.  

PND makers are transforming their once narrow navigation devices into much broader and more useful Internet-connected utilities in a bid to head off smartphones, which promise broader functionality and increasingly GPS-enabled maps and directions. Garmin, which also has a relationship with Google, has even developed a smartphone.

As PNDs become Internet access devices and more (selected TomTom devices double as audio book readers), they become much more interesting because of their larger screens. But they will need to continue to innovate and evolve to stay ahead of smartphones, which threaten to render them superfluous.

As I wrote in the preceding post, a new wave of non-phone, mobile Internet devices may emerge that also squeeze traditional PNDs and are tied into next-generation mobile broadband networks such as WiMax and LTE. 

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Maps and directions remain one of the "killer apps" for mobile. In May of this year comScore found the following in a survey of 2,000 US mobile users:

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In addition, we just found in a survey (n=789) that "access to maps & directions" was somewhat or very important to 45% of mobile users, as one of the top mobile content categories.