TomTom’s new GO Mobile App is free: but is it too little too late for the satnav industry?

Today saw the launch of satellite navigation company TomTom’s latest attempt at breaking into the Android navigation marketplace with TomTom Go Mobile. While it’s certainly feature-rich in comparison to a lot of the competition, it’s odd that TomTom would take the satnav fight into Google’s corner.


What is TomTom Go Mobile?

TomTom GO Mobile comes with live traffic updates and speed camera notifications. You can also navigate with one tap to your favourite destinations or set off in search of millions of points of interest. And, if you’d rather access maps and navigate without gobbling up mobile data, you can download offline maps for all 111 countries TomTom covers.

If you don’t fancy paying £14.99 for a year’s subscription, or £34.99 for three years, you can pick TomTom GO Mobile up for free. The caveat here, however, is a limit of just 50 miles a month.

As any regular driver will know, 50 miles a month doesn’t get you very far at all. And for many users, £14.99 is just that little bit too much when Google Maps is completely free to use and Google-owned Waze is as feature-rich and also completely free. So how does TomTom think 50 miles will manage to convince drivers to switch over to GO Mobile?

Is the satnav industry doomed?

It raises the question, what can satnav companies actually do in an age where maps are a commodity? So much so that Ordnance Survey has released its maps as open data.

Clearly TomTom is hoping to bring its years of in-car satnav device experience to its Android app. The same can be said of competitor app CoPilot, which has recently teamed up with road safety charity Brake to improve user experience by streamlining potential distractions out of its app.

Google Maps may be fantastic for finding quick directions, but despite Google’s best attempts it’s still fiddly to use on a mobile device, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a car. It’s here that GO Mobile seems to excel, offering up a clutter-free interface with big buttons for easy prodding.

The satnav finacials

The truth of the matter is, despite declining revenues, TomTom is still successful at what it does, making €619.1 million in consumer goods in 2014, with a further €109.4 million exclusively in automotive products. Obviously that encapsulates a far greater set of products than just its mobile offering, but it shows that TomTom products are still appealing to consumers.

So perhaps Google Maps isn’t the be-all, end-all for Android-based navigation systems just yet.

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