TomTom And deCarta Join Forces To Take On Google Maps
Personal navigation device (PND) and maps provider TomTom teamed up with independent mapping and local search company deCarta to offer developers an “end-to-end” alternative to Google Maps. The new joint offering provides connected mapping and navigation, local search and real-time traffic to enterprises and developers.
Kim Fennell, CEO of deCarta, laid out for me last week the benefits of the new joint offering:
Flexibility in LBS application look and feel, map styles
Control of the data (their own content and collecting end user data)
Flexibility in licensing terms
Manage the monetization themselves
Enhanced or specialized functionality (e.g. fleet management)
Since the advent of maps and navigation on smartphones the PND industry has faced an existential threat and declining sales. It’s much like the declining sales that point and shoot digital cameras have faced as smartphone cameras have continued to improve.
Here’s what TomTom said about the new product line:
As well as integrating TomTom’s existing navigation software and service products, such as NavKit, NavKit Worker and NavCloud, customers and developers can now integrate TomTom’s online turn-by-turn navigation. This also includes TomTom’s latest maps, real-time traffic, best-in-class routing, a comprehensive search function and easy-to-use software development kits.
TomTom’s new online navigation service enables mobile device vendors and web service providers to provide online mapping and navigation applications that don’t require an offline map. The new service is also well-suited for products in the emerging wearables and internet-of-things product categories.
TomTom is essentially reselling deCarta’s LBS platform and navigation app and SDK. It’s a win for deCarta, which has been “the little mapping company that could.” It’s also a win for TomTom, which has never had this full set of capabilities before.
Kim Fennell said one of the chief virtues of this new TomTom product is “more flexibility and customization” than Google Maps provides. While he praised Google Maps he also said that the company’s license terms have become more “restrictive” over time.
He pointed to the fact, among other things, that developers can’t use Google search results on a non-Google Map. Fennel added that developers today can use deCarta maps with any map content or search results. The company also provides what it says is best-in-class geocoding as well as local search.
According to Fennel, the TomTom-deCarta collaboration now sets up a three way contest between Google Maps, Nokia HERE and TomTom. (What about Microsoft?) He argues, as one might expect, that TomTom (with deCarta) represents the best available option vs. Google Maps for developers and OEMs (e.g., car makers, carriers, device makers, etc.) seeking an alternative.
As product validation Fennell told me, “In August we replaced Google local search on Blackberry phones in 122 countries and we just replaced Bing at OnStar.”
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