Dutch GPS device maker TomTom isn't super confident in the future of personal navigation devices (PNDs) and is undergoing a restructuring effort that involves shifting its focus to pre-installed navigation devices in automobiles and fleet management applications. Unfortunately for some of TomTom's employees, the company's efforts also entail a 10 percent workforce reduction.
TomTom on Monday announced a couple of new GPS devices, the Go 2405 TM and Go 2505 TM. According to TomTom, both of these offer faster routing than previous versions and feature an enhanced software platform, as well as a new physical design.
"At TomTom, we are continuously working to deliver innovative navigation solutions for our consumers," said Tom Murray, senior vice president of market development, TomTom. "The Go Series combines new software architecture and enhanced routing to provide our consumers with superior driving intelligence."
A new UI combined with more intuitive software purportedly make the new devices easier than ever to use, taking just a few taps for routed directions. Other features include voice recognition, pinch-to-zoom, Bluetooth support, and lifetime traffic and map updates.
TomTom and HTC have announced that the navigation company's GPS maps will be showing up on HTC phones in the coming months. HTC's new HTC Locations software will have TomTom's maps built in. This app is free to use for checking maps and finding locations, but users will have to pay for actual turn-by-turn navigation.
The purchase will be made through the app, or with HTC's Sync software. This may be a tough sell on Android phones as Google's free navigation software is preloaded. The HTC navigation service may be more useful as the maps will be stored on the device. Google Navigation requires a net connection to use.
The new HTC Locations with TomTom will be rolled out on the HTC Desire HD and Desire Z first in Europe and Asia. Future smartphones for other regions will get the software as well. No details on how much the navigation capability will cost, but it will need to be low to lure people away from Google's free option.
The whole point of buying a GPS is so you don't have to worry about getting lost, but if you're cruising through unfamiliar territory with an outdated map, you could end up who knows where. For this reason -- and no doubt influenced by increasing competition from GPS-centric smartphone apps -- TomTom announced it is now offering free Lifetime Map Updates and Lifetime Traffic Updates.
"The nation's roads are changing every day, so TomTom is proud to offer Lifetime Map Updates on our portable navigation devices," said Tom Murray, vice president of market development for TomTom Inc. "This feature, in conjunction with TomTom's Lifetime Traffic Updates, offers our customers the assurance that they will always have the industry's most accurate maps and the real-time traffic information they need for hassle-free navigation."
Users of "select TomTom devices across the TomTom LX and TomTom XXL product lines" are eligible to download new maps every few months, which the company claims includes one million more miles than competing maps.
Last week Microsoft and TomTom finally reached a settlement in their ongoing patent dispute. As part of the deal, TomTom will pay Microsoft for patent protection that covers it’s mapping, and file management systems, which as it turns out, are part of the Linux kernel. According to a company spokesperson, TomTom will “remove from its products the functionality related to two file management systems patents over the next two years.” The specific financial terms were not disclosed, but a legal cease fire between the two companies has been agreed upon for a five year period.
"We are pleased TomTom has chosen to resolve the litigation amicably by entering into a patent agreement," Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement. Industry analysts have been following the case very closely, since the Linux Kernel is at the heart of the infringements. This settlement opens the door for Microsoft to go after other firms who use Linux commercially. Microsoft has agreements in place with Linux heavy users such as LG, Samsung, and Xerox, but this victory gives them further ammunition in negotiations that don’t lead to a deal. Though the settlement is a long way from killing Linux commercially, it certainly gives Microsoft a lot more creditability in its ongoing assertions that the Linux kernel violates their intellectual property.
Microsoft recently slapped TomTom with a patent infringement suit. The Redmond-based tech behemoth has claimed that TomTom’s devices are in direct violation of eight of its patents.
Some fear Microsoft’s suit against TomTom may be a straw in the wind, as three of the claims are related to the use of the Linux kernel. Microsoft’s lawyer Horacio Gutierrez tried to dispel such misgivings. He told Cnet that the claims pertaining to the implementation of “file management techniques used in the Linux kernel” are only specific to TomTom.
He insisted that Microsoft is not going to mount a massive legal assault against the open-source community. Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, also feels that it is unfair to jump to conclusions about the scope of this lawsuit. Gutierrez and Zemlin certainly don’t think that Microsoft’s suit against TomTom is an indicant of trouble for the open-source community. What do you think?