updated 12:15 pm EDT, Thu March 24, 2011
TomTom rebuffs rumors of map unit sell-off
TomTom executive committee member Taco Titulaer on Thursday rejected a rumor started by analyst group Mergermarket that it was selling off its map content division. The former Tele Atlas group would stay intact and wasn't on sale at all. Its navigation data was "core to [TomTom's] strategy and product offering," Titulaer told Reuters.
The rumor had alleged that Google would back out of its long-running deal with TomTom for Google Maps, in part because Google was no longer the centerpiece for location services in the world. Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter all increasingly revolve around check-in services or otherwise tracking positions when a phone user volunteers to give out a location. It wasn't mentioned which firm TomTom would have sold to besides Google.
Apple has shown signs of trying to grow its independence from Google Maps and could use TomTom's maps to get data itself, but no rumors have emerged connecting the two. The closest has been Apple's decision to acquire Placebase in what may have been map layering, not map data.
The sell-off if true would have come from fears TomTom's financial health was at risk in a climate where smartphones are making some GPS units obsolete. Google Maps Navigation on Android, stand-alone GPS apps on the iPhone, and Nokia's Ovi Maps have all been threats to a point where Garmin briefly tried a fear campaign to bring customers back.