Is TomTom losing the ‘dashboard battle’?
The announcement that the Alliance Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi will use Google navigation and entertainment software instead of TomTom (and others) decreased the share value of TomTom by 24,4% immediately. Is the Dutch map producer losing the so-called ‘dashboard battle’?
Until now Tomtom had always said to his shareholders that car manufacturers weren’t interested in sharing data with Google. The now announced deal with the biggest car manufacturing group in the world proves the opposite.
The Alliance Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi, biggest car manufacturer in the world with 10,6 million cars and light commercial vehicles last year, has concluded a partnership with data/internet giant Alphabet, mother company of Google. The three manufacturers have announced that they will integrate the Android Auto system in their dashboards, while every brand keeps its own interface to be able to differentiate.
The deal is significant because it confirms the tendency that car makers are willing to collaborate with the tech companies. The important question that comes with it is who will finally control the data that go with it.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kal Mos, Vice-President of the Alliance in charge of connected vehicles, assured that where Google will have access to all data generated by the apps on board, it will still have to ask the customer if he wants to share them.
Until now the biggest competitor for TomTom was map producer Here (mainly Audi/BMW/Daimler owned) which also proposed entire navigation systems. Edzard Overbeek, CEO of Here, is not surprised of the new evolution: “The competition in our sector seemed already to come from big tech companies and not from traditional players anymore.”
Until now, the Google maps are no HD maps, necessary for autonomous driving technology. TomTom and Here are heavily investing in the development of these HD maps, but at Google these maps are developed by an independent daughter company, Waymo, which is developing an autonomous car by itself.
Apart from the automotive branch now under attack by Google, TomTom has three other main activities: the consumer department still makes portable navigation systems (brings in a lot of money, but demand is decreasing), there is a licensing department that sells the use of maps and services to third parties, and finally there is the telematics branch, which sells software to run car fleets.
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