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Dash Navigation will place 2,000 cellular-connected portable GPS units in consumers' hands nationwide to test the devices, which are due for release this fall.
The company will select 2,000 consumers as a representative sampling of drivers across the country and ship them free GPS personal navigation devices (PNDs) for the May-through-summer trial. Consumers can sign up to receive the GPS device on the Dash.net website. The company has been trialing the Dash Express in the San Francisco area using about 200 units since last fall.
The Dash Express two-way PND is one of the first "always-on" connected device that can both send and receive traffic information. Users not only receive traffic updates, but they "broadcast" their rate of travel, to contribute traffic information to the system.
Originally, Dash planned a limited summertime trial of its two-way PNDs in California, but then it decided on a nationwide trial. "Based on the focus work we did last summer, we realized people around the country think about traffic differently," explained marketing senior VP Robert Acker.
"In L.A., the presumption is there is traffic everywhere, all the time, and the focus is, How can I best know when I will arrive?' In Chicago, the focus there is avoiding construction on the freeway in the summer," he explained.
The nationwide test/promotion "is also to test how people react to it and to see what our messaging will be when we launch in the fall," Acker said.
The company is hoping that up to 6,000 people will sign up for the trial so Dash can handpick a representative sample of nationwide users.
The Dash Express also offers advanced features such as in-car Yahoo! Local searches.
Other features include local gas prices, movie listings, community-based ratings for restaurants and other destinations, and a choice of several routes with "accurate" arrival times.
As for the fall rollout, Dash did not comment on distribution plans or announce a price other than to say pricing will fall in the midrange of market pricing, currently at $600 to $800.
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