I have had a very rough time with GPS navigation devices. When TomTom dropped by 28% even though they had good earnings I wondered what happened. I checked in my email box and saw the problem was that Google is giving away its GPS turn by turn application.
Really? Interesting especially considering that Google has to license the data from TeleAtlas and that is owned by TomTom. Of course Google will do a cross-licensing deal and still has 3 years left in its contract. But let’s be frank about this Google is stepping on really thin ice here.
When Microsoft was in a bind they decided to give their browser and everything else with respect to the Internet and Windows. That in itself raised the ire of the anti-trust since Microsoft was using their monopoly to drive out customers. Google is doing the exact same thing. Google is desperately trying to break the iPhone because with the iPhone is taking money away from Google because you do not need search. In my case I know when I use my iPod touch I hardly use Google search or anything Google related.
Microsoft got off, but in terms of share price and coolness they died off quickly. Microsoft since then has struggled to get anywhere. And I wonder if the same will not happen to Google. For how long is it going to take before the US or Europe anti-trust get involved? I am betting the European anti-trust will get involved sooner since TomTom is in Europe.
Of course if I was Google what would I focus on? Oh yeah the cloud, but somehow that seems to have died off and left to Amazon. Go figure…
Do I think giving away GPS navigation is going to help Google? No, because TomTom has additional services to help you avoid traffic jams. Don’t think such services are important? Think about this. Imagine if 60% of the people have GPS’s and they all decide to go on vacation. Then imagine what route those 60% take. Now imagine those people sitting for hours in the car and not being able to move forward or backward. How happy will they be with the “free” GPS?
I call it the GPS herding effect! The kicker is that those routes not found by the GPS are very very empty…