TomTom Launched HD Traffic in South Africa

Last week Dutch navigation provider TomTom started their LIVE Services in South Africa with the launch of a connected personal navigation device, the TomTom GO 750 LIVE. The real-time services available with the product are traffic information (HD Traffic), Google Local Search, speed camera location and weather information.

Unlike in Europe, TomTom is not using GSM signal data to enable HD traffic, but only GPS probes through a partnership with Tracker, the leading South African provider of tracking and stolen vehicle recovery. In South Africa, Tracker’s technology is fitted to more than 570,000 vehicles.

The TomTom GO 750 LIVE, including a 1 year LIVE Services subscription for free, retails at R3,299 (US$ 428). The LIVE Services subscription will cost R499 (US$65) for each following year.

Harman and Nokia to Interface Cars with Smartphones

The Automotive Division of in-car infotainment specialist Harman International and Nokia have announced their collaboration to develop technology which seamlessly integrates smartphones into in-vehicle infotainment systems.

Known as Terminal Mode, the standard pushed by Nokia not only allows to use mobile applications and content through cars’ infotainment systems, but also to access car data such as position, speed, fuel level, etc. to enable new innovative solutions.

Harman is particularly interested in leveraging smartphone capabilities in connection with Entry- and Mid-level infotainment systems.

“Beside our well equipped infotainment systems, standardized interface solutions between Smartphones & Car Infotainment will provide a rich set of additional applications and are particularly interesting for Entry- and Mid-Level Infotainment Systems to allow best connectivity via the head unit for attractive use of smartphone functionality in vehicle applications” stated Hans Roth, Director Global Business Development & Marketing, Harman Automotive Division.

Nokia is already partnering with Continental, Alpine, Fiat, and a few other automotive companies to develop and promote this technology.

Appello Sees iPhone Nav Success in Austria and Sweden

Swedish mobile navigation supplier Appello claims to be the number one seller of iPhone navigation application in Sweden and Austria, following its recent launch with TeliaSonera Sweden and T-Mobile Austria.

“Wisepilot for iPhone was introduced with T-Mobile in Austria on January 16, 2010. The initial response has exceeded expectations andWisepilot is now, less than one month after the release, the most downloaded turn-by-turn navigation application in Austria”, said Appello.

The Austrian launch is part of a contract where T-Mobile selected deCarta and its navigation partner Appello to provide a set of location-based services to be delivered as part of T-Mobile’s web’n’walk offering (mobile browsing and widgets).

Appello’s second launch of Wisepilot for iPhone (Telia Navigator) was carried through in cooperation with Telia in Sweden on February 2.

“The instant top ranking and reviews received in Sweden gives further recognition to our concept” said Appello CEO Martin Svensson. “We will, in the following months, launch Wisepilot for iPhone in additional countries in close cooperation with our mobile operator partners. Integrating relevant local content and focusing on user need and experience in each country is definitely a formula for success. Our backlog for launching is strong and increasing every week.”

Fujitsu Mini-Notebook to Ship with Garmin Software

At the CES trade show this week Fujitsu announced the LifeBook UH900, a mini notebook that features a 5.6-inch multi-touch screen display, a GPS chipset and weight a mere 1.1 pounds. Fujitsu also added a fully fledged navigation software from Garmin into the package. Unlike other larger Netbooks with no touch screen, here it makes a lot of sense to offer such an option.

The price of the LifeBook UH900 will start at $999 and it will be available next month online from Fujitsu and selected etailers/retailers.

Fiat Doblò gets Blue&Me TomTom

TomTom today said that Fiat has expanded the Blue&Me TomTom navigation solution to the Doblò model from the initial Fiat Punto in which it was showcased for the first time at the IAA Motorshow in Frankfurt, Germany on September 2009.

Blue&Me – TomTom is a flexible solution that is a Personal Navigation Device (that can be moved from car to car) but also highly integrated to the car through an active cradle developed by automotive part maker Magneti Marelli (also part of the Fiat Group).

The Fiat Doblò is a panel van and leisure activity vehicle produced by the Italian automaker since 2001.

TomTom signs partnership with Expedia

TomTom and Expedia Affiliate Network have signed a partnership to help TomTom customers book rooms across Europe.

TomTom customers are able to download a special set of hotel POIs (Points of Interest) from their TomTom Home PC application into their PND. Once downloaded these POIs allow to directly call a local Expedia hotline to get the best deal for hotels in the vicinity without booking fees. TomTom expects to expand this partnership to other territories in the future.

While the financials of this deal have not been detailed it is clear it will represent — a small but interesting — revenue stream for TomTom and at the same time a real value added to its customers. In the same way Garmin is financing the traffic information in its entry level PNDs in the United States via coupons offering, TomTom is willing to introduce some monetization in its POI download system. Coupons might be the next step too.

Low Cost Telefonica Nav App Launched on iTunes

Spanish wireless operator Telefónica today announced the availability of its turn-by-turn navigation application “Ruta Movistar App” on the iPhone, powered by Telmap.

For the first month all users can test the application for free with no data charges. After the first month, Ruta Movistar is included free of charge for users on an iPhone Plus flat rate tariff of €25 a month and iPhone Premium flat rate tariff of €39 a month. For remaining customers with an iPhone flat rate tariff, the app will cost €2.99 a month, which includes speed camera alerts, which will be charged directly to the subscriber’s bill. With such a low cost pricing Telefonica demonstrates that operators still can compete against third party navigation applications on the app store.

Telefonica also added that the application is using Telefonica’s own A-GPS server which speeds up the GPS fix.

The map data is from NAVTEQ and includes Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar as well as the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

Garmin to use KPN network for connected PND in the EU

KPN and Garmin have signed a multi-year agreement to deliver wireless connectivity to Garmin devices in Europe. KPN will provide special SIM cards that will be used in Garmin’s new portable navigation system, the nüvi 1690. Users of this system get direct links to current online information such as the weather, traffic and petrol prices.

Garmin can install an activated SIM card at the time of the nüvi 1690’s production so that the device is ready for consumers use at the time of purchase. KPN not only offers Garmin the convenience of global coverage but also access to an online management tool. The company that KPN has engaged to supply this management tool is Jasper Wireless.

In the United States Garmin is using AT&T for the SIM card in its nüvi 1690. AT&T also uses tools provided by Jasper Wireless.

Denso selects Airbiquity’s in-band modem

Airbiquity announced yesterday a global licensing agreement with Japanese navigation and telematics supplier DENSO, for its aqLink in-band software modem to support a North American automotive telematics program.

“Airbiquity was chosen to provide DENSO with two-way wireless connectivity through our aqLink software modem, an already road-proven product with more than 12 million vehicle installations to date,” said David Jumpa, senior vice-president of global business development for Airbiquity.

The aqLink software modem can be integrated onto a wireless module, Bluetooth hands-free kit or a navigation system to deliver connectivity applications. aqLink uses the voice channel which has the advantage to transmit data without unpredictable delays, a very important feature for critical and time-sensitive applications such as crash notification.

NAVIGON to ship PND with photo realistic cities and optional TV

German Personal Navigation device (PND) manufacturer NAVIGON announced yesterday a €449 premium device called NAVIGON 8410 Navigator. A 5-inch display, realistic 3D urban views (called Real City3D) and an optional module for mobile TV are among the top new hardware and software features.

The new display is said to be particularly reactive under the finger: “[it] is extremely touch-sensitive, and reacts far more sensitively to touch than other displays,” explained Jörn Watzke, Vice-President, Product Line Management. NAVIGON has also further improved its voice command system, allowing to call up names from saved contacts or name special destinations.

Real City3D (see picture) will be available for 16 cities in Europe. Further cities are planned for the future said a NAVIGON spokesperson. The provider is Zenrin Data, a well known Japanese map data company.

For an additional €59.95, the NAVIGON 8410 can be equipped with a digital TV module for DVB-T reception, converting the device into a mobile television. In addition, NAVIGON integrated a media player for viewing films and images and listening to music.

This device also includes all the bells and whistles found in the previous premium products such as TMC, Bluetooth, lane assistant, junction views, advanced parking search, etc.

High-end PND market

With this new product NAVIGON is further pushing the boundaries in terms of high-end PND. It further underlines the marketing strategy which tends to position the company as a high end PND brand. As a matter of fact, after recently stopping to sell its PNDs in the United States, the German company is now more than ever lacking the scale to effectively compete in the lower end of the market against TomTom and Garmin.

As European consumers are getting more mature and a second time buyer segment starts to emerge, the product mix getting a bit more balanced towards more advanced functionalities. However, in the short term the current economic situation in Europe is not favorable to that trend and many retailers are therefore limiting the display of high end products on their shelves. This short term situation might reveal dangerous for NAVIGON.