TomTom Map Share: good news for map providers?

PND manufacturer TomTom announced two weeks ago Map Share a new technology allowing users of the TomTom Go 520 and 720 to correct map mistakes directly on their device and share these little improvements with the community of other users. Since TeleAtlas is the key map provider to TomTom, one might have thought Map Share would have been launched in co-operation with TeleAtlas and that the improvements made to the maps would be given back to TeleAtlas. But “At the moment, TomTom will not be sharing the information we collect with any of our map providers. This could very well change in the future”, said Karen Drake a TomTom spokesperson.

Map Share is a major investment from TomTom because such a solution needs a complex back-end system to process user’s updates, so it is sure the company is not likely to give back user generated map correction for free to TeleAtlas, and to see his competitors Navman and Mio — also TeleAtlas customers – getting the same information.

Despite Map Share TomTom will continue to provide its customers with a yearly map update, a high margin operation. If there is no agreement with TeleAtlas it means TomTom would have to compile its new maps with two sources: the new TeleAtlas data and its own Map Share updated data: probably not an easy task.

According to TeleAtlas spokesperson Erin Delaney, “Tele Atlas is excited by the launch of the TomTom Map Share program as we believe it will help enable users with the ability to further personalize and customize their navigation experience. Tele Atlas is committed to arming its industry partners and their end users with the freshest, most accurate map data and it’s been our strategy for over a year to solicit input from consumers via our Map Insight program. “

However we guess TeleAtlas might be more worried than thrilled by Map Share. So far map providers TeleAtlas and Navteq were fully in control of the map data value chain and business model. Of course end users update were most welcome, but for free and on the map provider websites.

But if PND manufacturers such as TomTom enter in the value chain and de facto control these end-user updates, it will change the rules of the game.

“Today, communities drive innovation and help facilitate experiences” added Delaney. We can not disagree, but the power is in the hands of who enables these communities.

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