Just over $1 billion dollars TomTom raised by selling off part of its business to a tire manufacturer. Dutch company TomTom N.V. sold its Telematics fleet-management system to Bridgestone Corp. This was a much-needed move by the company as the newly freed-up resources there are already earmarked for a new purpose – fighting companies like Alphabet Inc. (in other words, the parent company of Google) for access to mapping technology in cars.
This may sound a bit peculiar at first glance, however, since TomTom is in the middle of shifting away from the navigation devices that made the company a household name and towards a new venture into location technology, it’s a much-needed step.
Bridgestone Corp. won out over bidders like Daimler AG, Michelin, Microsoft and even Verizon Communications Inc. The sold-off Telematics branch accounted for roughly 18% of TomTom’s 2017 sales. This is despite the fact that for the past three years, TomTom’s shares have been steadily declining in value.
New resources for a new battle
As such, a move towards something new could mean a big chance for redemption here. It’s a particularly ambitious bid too – the battle over mapping services, both as a service and from a technology angle, is fierce. Car manufacturers, specialized mapping companies and tech giants like Google are all trying to get a leg up on the technology.
At the moment, Google and its Google Maps software have an almost-monopoly on the market, however, this won’t go unchallenged – already in 2015, German car companies teamed up in order to provide location data for navigation systems, in order to prevent Google from rising to the top.
At first glance, this may appear a little strange, given the apparent stakes, however, this location technology is the next step in another, extremely lucrative technology development process – self-driving vehicles. Naturally, in order to get from point A to point B, those vehicles need to have access to information about said points as well as anything in between – that means frequently updated and increasingly accurate location data is absolutely key.
Everything but a blue ocean
With companies like Uber, Google and more trying their best to make the still futuristic-seeming driverless cars, busses and more, a reality as quickly as possible, several challenges still remain, such as behavior during a potential accident – those are difficult to solve though, and often require innovation of entirely new technology.
This, on the other hand, is tech that we already have – who doesn’t regularly use Google Maps or something similar to find their way?
The fight for a share of location mapping tech is a varied one, too. While most probably think of satellite data first, there is more than one kind, and each has its own set of uses. Dashcam footage, for example, is the ideal way to learn about real-time traffic behavior, road obstructions and more; that’s precisely why companies like TomTom and its competitors are so interested in it.
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Mel is a UK-based journalist that has been writing about tech, science and video games for a few years now. After studying in Vienna, Austria she followed her dreams and moved to London. Said dreams took her through a few different jobs before she settled on what she really wanted to do – write about the exciting world of technology and the delightfully strange things it sometimes produces.