NDrive Launches Nav for bada-powered Samsung Wave 525

Mobile navigation provider NDrive has announced today the availability of its navigation software for the popular Samsung Wave 525 smartphone, powered by the bada operating system.

According to market research firm Gartner, there were 2.5 million bada-powered phones sold in the third quarter of 2011; 80% of this number are 5 models: Wave 525, 533, 575, 578, and 723.

“Samsung Wave 525 and other ‘little badas’, as we call them at NDrive, are among the most affordable smartphones on the market. But despite of reduced CPU and graphics performance, these GPS-enabled devices are entirely fit for browsing, messaging, and turn-by-turn navigation. It was simply a matter of time to fine-tune our software for it.” – Ilídio Martins, NDrive’s lead bada developer.

NDrive was the first provider to have ported an onboard navigation solution to bada in June 2010.

Connected Car: “OEMs and Tier 1s Potentially Missing Out Revenue Opportunities“

Michael O’Shea has a long history in the GPS and location-based services space, serving at NAVTEQ, Infogation and Alpine before starting Abalta in 2003.

GPS Business News: Can you provide a brief overview of Abalta’s history?

Michael O’Shea: Initially Abalta started as a core group of mapping and software experts focused on embedded automotive navigation and software. In the years to follow, as GPS adoption exploded across the market, our company grew by bridging our experience into consumer electronics and then expanded into mobile.

Now with smartphones and applications being in such demand across automotive and enterprise segments, our ability to develop robust solutions combined with our mobile development capabilities seem to be a valuable combination.

Given this demand, we continuing to add staff and grow the Abalta team. We are on a good hiring clip at the moment and just recently completed an acquisition in Europe. With this latest addition, we now have offices in San Diego, Torrance, Chicago and Sofia.

GPS BN: How many employees today?

MO: Nowadays we have a staff of 15 with the acquisition of PS Systems.

GPS BN: Since you brought up this European acquisition, what is the strategy behind that?

MO: We have seen an incredible ramp up in demand for our software solutions and services — especially from our automotive and enterprise customers. The acquisition of PS Systems helps us support this growth.

However, the story is much more than just capacity. Capability is more important to us. The team in Sofia is incredibly talented and brings a great deal of know-how to our team. We focus on employing engineers versus programmers. With this quality of staff, we are able to work with our customers to help them define and design solutions while also identifying and overcoming any challenges they face. The ability to work through these solutions is especially key given the requirements in automotive and enterprise.

Aside from keeping up with the demand for software development services, the acquisition will also allow us to continue to build and improve our Abalta product portfolio which we will be pushing more in the coming months.

Continued…

TomTom Expands PND Ambitions on Chinese Market

After a small scale launch last year, TomTom has finally announced today its real intentions to sell Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) on the Chinese market with the launch of its GO 1050 World and VIA series devices that are available at leading retailers including IT and 3C in Shanghai and Beijing and online at, amongst others, 360buy, Newegg and ICSON.

TomTom’s new GO 1050 World is fitted with a 5-inch screen, maps of China and access to over 50 countries and areas including: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, the US and Canada.

TomTom’s VIA Series come with either 4.3” or 5” screens. Except for the VIA 100, all models in TomTom’s new line-up offer voice control system allowing for more than 100 voice commands including: route planning, calling home and instructions such as ‘travel via’.

All devices are sold with lifetime map updates on the Chinese market.

The TomTom GO 1050 World costs 3380 RMB (US $532) and the TomTom VIA range starts at 1080 RMB (US $ 170).

OnStar: 200,000 Subs in China

Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co., Ltd., the Chinese telematics subsidiary of General Motors, has signed up over 200,000 subscribers since its launch in 2009.

In the biggest car market in the world the telematics service has doubled its customer base in the last three months alone, said the company in a press release.

Shanghai OnStar is integrated with all three major passenger vehicle brands under Shanghai GM: Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet. Free OnStar service is available in the first year for customers who purchase Shanghai GM vehicles with the OnStar system.

Since its inception in 2009 Shanghai OnStar has been providing 1,460 automatic crash notifications, 50 stolen vehicle locations, 37,000 remote door unlocks for vehicle owners and more than 1.8 million turn-by-turn navigation routes.

INRIX XD Traffic Selected by Audi for Connected Nav

At a launch event today in Italy for the 2011 Audi A6, the German car maker is unveiling a new breed of connected navigation system that uses real-time traffic data from INRIX. The car will start shipping in the second quarter of 2011 in a number of European countries and the service will be part of an optional package that includes Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity. The service is expected to be available on the Audi A8 and Audi Q7 at a later stage.

“The combination of INRIX’s XD Traffic and Connected Services platform helps Audi become the first can manufacturer in the world to deliver a high quality and reliable connected navigation systems our customers can count on to always find the best route and avoid unforeseen delays along the way,” said Ulrich Beeskow, Head of Development for Connected Navigation, Audi AG.

For INRIX this is the first announcement of a European car OEM as well as the first implementation of its XD traffic technology. The service features the TPEG standard Over IP and also includes speedwaves, an INRIX technology that computes traffic speed on arterial roads with algorithms that bakes delays at stop signs, traffic lights and others that influence speed on these type of roads.

To learn more, listen to our podcast with INRIX CEO Bryan Mistele.

Demo: Airbiquity-Powered Nissan Leaf Apps & Web Portal

GPS Business News met with Airbiquity at the CES trade show and filmed a demonstration of the company’s work for the Nissan Leaf (electric vehicle) web portal and apps allowing consumers to remotely control many parameter of the car such as the charge level, range, temperature, etc…

Airbiquity VP of marketing Leo McCloskey demonstrated some of these functionalities in the car and through a web portal in the following video:

TomTom Releases HD Traffic, New Connected PND in the US

At the CES trade show today TomTom is announcing the availability of HD Traffic, its home made real-time traffic information system, in the United States, as well as the first connected PND to support it, the GO 2505 M LIVE. The device will be available at retail stores and from online retailers in mid-2011 for $349 MSRP. A trial subscription of LIVE services will be available for free with each purchase.

LIVE services include HD Traffic, weather forecast, Google local search and real-time Fuel Prices. The wireless connectivity is delivered by AT&T.

The new GO LIVE also offers “Intuitive Voice Recognition” and Bluetooth Hands-Free calling. With access to various voice commands, drivers can say “take me to the nearest restaurant” or ask to “drive to an address.” The device also features a 5-inch capacitive touch screen and an improved click-and-lock magnetic mount.



HD Traffic


The US version of HD Traffic is however quite different from what it is in Europe. Unlike in the old continent (with Vodafone and a few others) TomTom does not have an agreement with a wireless operator to use cell data as traffic probes.

According to TomTom’s senior vice president of market development Tom Murray, in the United States TomTom relies on historical traffic data (IQ Route), “several hundred of thousand traffic probes” and incident data. TomTom claims to provide traffic coverage for 6 million miles against half a million miles for TMC-based traffic information systems.

However, one might wonder how TomTom can provide accurate data for so many roads with so little GPS probes. In comparison, INRIX – with its XD Traffic product – claims to cover 450,000 miles with 3 million GPS probes. The first product reviews will tell how good the service is compared to what is available today in Europe where HD traffic provides a reliable service, especially for Estimated Time of Arrival.

Shameless Google Uses Volunteers to Build Local Maps in Africa

In a post on a Google Blog yesterday we learned that the search giant invited 60 of Google Map Maker’s top users in Africa to a community workshop in Nairobi. After a long blabla explaining that these people are citizen cartographers, the blog post ends with the following statement “Mapping allows each of us to be a driving force for change and growth in both our immediate communities and the rest of the world. Let’s continue mapping, let’s stay connected through the Map Your World Community, and let’s continue doing amazing things together!”.

At first look it sounds like Google is doing some humanitarian work, but it is if you read the small prints on Google Map Maker that are the following: “By submitting User Submissions to the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, distribute, and create derivative works of the User Submission.”

In plain language this means the data is produced for free by map makers (in this case by people coming from some of the poorest countries in the world) but owned by Google. If there is "change and growth" in that whole program this is in Google’s bottom line, not in the life of the local communities. the later would be better mapping their towns and villages with Openstreetmap that is really an open source system and allows for example to print maps (let remind us Internet penetration is around 10% in Africa today) or download and store them to a mobile device.

Let’s make it clear: Google GAAP net income in the third quarter of 2010 was $2.17 billion; however the Mountain View company does not seem to have the money to pay local employees to drive Google’s mapping cars in Africa?

So Google, Shame on you!

Interview: Airbiquity Partners with Bosch for in-Car Connectivity

Last week Airbiquity and Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH announced a partnership to enable connected vehicle services into Bosch’s in-car multimedia systems.

The two companies are already working to deliver an in-car system for their first joint customer, providing connected vehicle services in 17 countries throughout North America, Europe and Russia.

At the Telematics Munich conference, GPS Business News interviewed with David Jumpa, senior vice president for global sales and business development at Airbiquity.

TrafficLand Licenses U.S. Traffic Video Feeds to Visteon

TrafficLand, the largest aggregator of live traffic video in the U.S., has signed a licensing agreement to provide its video content for Visteon Corporation’s mobile application and automotive electronic products.

Visteon is initially including the live video feeds in its new TrafficJamCam iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad applications. The application integrates maps with live traffic camera video from the TrafficLand network. It is currently available in 19 metropolitan areas across the U.S., including: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus/Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Miami, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, Riverside (Calif.), Seattle/Tacoma, and Washington, D.C/Baltimore.

Visteon also plans to integrate TrafficLand live traffic video into its in-vehicle infotainment systems.

TrafficLand provides access to live traffic video from over 8,000 traffic cameras in the United States through contractual redistribution agreements with over 50 local Departments of Transportation.