updated 04:30 pm EDT, Wed May 14, 2008
TomTom OK to Buy TeleAtlas
European Commission officials today cleared GPS maker TomTom's plans to buy Tele Atlas. The government body says the buyout "would not significantly impede" competition in GPS navigators and attached no restrictions to the deal, which lets TomTom use an in-house source for its own maps. Although the possiblity exists for TomTom to artificially limit competition by blocking sales of Tele Atlas maps to outside companies, the existence of its rival Navteq makes that "unlikely," the Commission says.
Caution has nonetheless surfaced over the deal in relation to a proposed Nokia purchase of NAVTEQ, which would give a second hardware designer significant control over an influential map firm and potentially reduce the incentive of both Nokia and TomTom to sell maps to their competitors.
TomTom has already hinted at its future plans in the wake of the approval and intends to use the mapping expertise to improve the quality of its data much more quickly. The Dutch company suggests that it will use Tom Tom SHARE user feedback to reveal outdated map areas as constructions and closures change the landscape, and potentially offer daily map updates rather than monthly or yearly updates. It may also help generate more accurate predictive features, such as improved traffic jam forecasts that help drivers avoid congestion.