TomTom to launch app store

Image courtesy: Engadget

Following Apple, BlackBerry, and others in the “mobile” space TomTom will be the latest player to introduce an app store to its customers, the company has confirmed.

Expected sometime in 2010, although Goddijn (TomTom CEO) wouldn’t officially be drawn on a date, the new app store will play on the move to the webkit platform and allow a greater emphasis on providing the TomTom experience elsewhere, other than just dedicated devices like the newly launched TomTom Go Live 1000.

So does a car navigation company really need an app store? Goddjin thinks so:

“It is less critical for us than say a phone maker, because the variety of information you want to have when you’re on the move is greater than when you are driving. When you are driving you are driving”, says Goddjin. “Very few people sit in a car and say what do I want to do now. It is important nevertheless. It is important to get the depth and breadth of more applications, more content, more flexibility for both our consumer business and our automotive business”.

But selling PNDs in what many see as a shrinking market is tough work and so in the third move to stave off threats from the mobile phone makers, TomTom is attempting to drive its way into cars even more than it already has.

Already having major content deals with the likes of Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Daimler, TomTom clearly hopes that it can leverage those relationships to get its platform rolling out quickly to more people beyond those willing to pay for a dedicated personal navigation device (PND), rather than using their phone’s free mapping alternative.

“We want to create a platform in the car and Webkit is an important element to that dream”, says Goddjin.

TomTom says that it will be able to allow car makers to customise the UI, use webkit to provide a “great” programming environment that makes it easier to talk to the other systems of the car (like the heating or air conditioning), as well as deliver over the air (OTA) updates thanks to built-in connectivity (ie a SIM card), something that will no doubt appeal to car makers, normally slow to implement new technologies in the latest models.

Built-in car unit systems, cloud based services, a cross platform operating system, can the PND really last that much longer? Goddjin says yes:

“The beauty of something that is fit for purpose will continue to attract a lot of people into the category… we aren’t at a point where pure cloud computing devices can take over just yet. The reliability of connectivity isn’t there. The cost of always-on connectivity is still too high and those together compromise the effectiveness of the product. However, I believe that a hybrid model that features a large proportion of data on the device, that will work independently of network coverage, but that for live data you use the cloud to its best advantage will be very popular for years to come”.

Courtesy: Pocket Lint.

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