TomTom Seeks To Spur PND Market

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 3 2014 - 9:44am




Las Vegas –TomTom is expanding TomTom HD Traffic service to all of its new portable navigation devices (PNDs) in 2014, making it easier for PND users to choose a destination, and bringing 3D displays of buildings and landmarks for the first time to select models.

The innovations will give current PND users more reasons to buy a replacement model and appeal to the 44 percent of drivers who don’t use a PND, smartphone, or in-dash nav system to get around, said marketing VP Tom Murray.

Ten percent of existing PND owners plans to buy a navigation solution in the short term, and of those, 80 percent plan to buy a PND, he said in citing market research. Twelve percent of drivers without a navigation solution plan in the short term to buy a navigation solution, and 64 percent of those will choose a PND.

The eight new SKUs range in price from a suggested $119 to $299 with screen sizes of 4.3, 5 and 6 inches. All will be available at retail in April and will replace the current selection, which offers far more SKUs and will be phased out.

TomTom Traffic service delivers real-time traffic updates via Bluetooth-equipped smartphone running a TomTom Traffic app. In contrast, select current TomTom models access the traffic service via embedded GPRS cellular modem connected to the AT&T network, but AT&T is phasing out the 2G data service.

Murray described TomTom’s traffic service as more reliable and more precise than competing services and offering far broader coverage. TomTom Traffic covers 99.9 percent of U.S. roadways, compared to competing services’ 9 percent, and bases traffic-speed data on the speeds of more than 100 million U.S. traffic probes, which include fleet vehicles, cellular-equipped PNDs, and GPS-equipped cellphones, Murray said. The crowd-sourced service also offers more precise traffic data by tracking traffic in smaller road segments and by capturing traffic speeds accurate within up to 30 feet compared to up to 300 feet. Because of these advantages, Murray said, the PNDs will give drivers a higher degree of confidence to take a PND-suggested route to avoid traffic.

TomTom Traffic, which delivers traffic updates every 2 minutes, will be available free for life with five of eight PNDs and will require a subscription with the other three. Cellphone data charges also apply.

To make it easier to choose a destination, Tom Tom is incorporating a new user interface. When the PND is turned on, a map appears with icons of the driver’s preprogrammed favorite locations highlighted on the map. Drivers need only tap on an icon to navigate there. To select a point of interest, the PNDs will do away with menu-driven decision trees. Users would begin typing the word restaurant, coffee shop, Starbucks, or the name of a landmark, and nearby locations would appear on screen.

Five of the eight models will also be the first with 3D map displays for major metropolitan areas. The maps show 3D drawings of buildings and landmarks on and around a driver’s route to help make navigating more intuitive, Murray said.

The UI also brings the upgrades the PNDs’ traffic bar, which not only shows the length of delays along a route but also lets users click on the bar to see what’s causing the delay, such as congestion or an accident. The bar can also be programmed to show the distance to types of POIs selected by the user.

The top two models at $249 and $299 feature capacitive touchscreens to pinch and zoom on a map. Like previous models, they feature speech recognition to activate functions by voice but add the ability for the first time to be turned on by voice.

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