GO 740 LIVE gets connected

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If TomTom's connected GO 740 LIVE captivates the public and becomes a marketing success, then kudos will be due to TomTom and Jasper. However, there may be some reservations about the product.

Connected PNDs haven't been the success story of the decade. Just last year the Dash, launched in April, took a hefty price tag drop because it didn't exactly set the market on fire. The GO 740 LIVE faces the same questions that Dash did – just how connected will it be? And will consumers fork out for what it offers?

TomTom chose Jasper to enable cellular connectivity for the Go 740 LIVE. The connected PND will cost US$399, including three months of services. After that there's a monthly fee of $9.99.

Looking at what it offers compared with smartphones, US customers may wonder if the additional subscription is worthwhile. The GO 740 LIVE essentially offers a set of traffic and navigation functions similar to those you can get on a smartphone. It also offers local searches through Google, but nothing like the array of services that phone users have come to expect. In particular, it lacks the popular magic of mobile social networking.

The Google Search on the GO 740 LIVE could have been a key differentiator between it and other connected PNDs, especially if it came with the bandwidth necessary for a smart web-enabled device. But Karen Drake, TomTom's PR manager, says: "Although we do connect to Google for local search only, this is not a web enabled device and therefore bandwidth is irrelevant." Really? Some smartphone apps gobble up bandwidth.

Macario Namie, Jasper's director of product marketing, answered the question of what Jasper and TomTom had learnt from the Dash experience: "As the communications platform for both Dash and TomTom, we are constantly reminded what it takes to succeed in enabling connectivity on a device: a superior customer experience, flexible business models, operations automation and an ability to reach market quickly." That sounds like a fine marketing philosophy but it doesn't tell potential customers that PNDs have taken a giant leap forwards.

Tim Roper, senior VP of sales at TomTom, is bullish: "The TomTom GO 740 LIVE and our connected LIVE Services mark a fundamental breakthrough in the quality and functionality of navigation devices and how people will use them." The LIVE services that will be delivered through Jasper's cellular connectivity include real-time traffic speed and incident reports, the location of the lowest local fuel prices, local and five-day weather forecasts, and quick, automatic GPS fixes. Plus those local searches through Google.

There is considerable potential for connected PND technology. Cars, for example, could be connected through a global service platform, allowing car manufacturers to launch connected services. "At Jasper we see the connected car becoming more and more a reality in the coming years," says Namie. "Our communications platform is designed to enable automobile manufacturers to embed connectivity in a profitable way, with automation, real-time diagnostics, global service and more."

This makes sense if one looks at the money invested by Telenor, for instance, in telematics events this year.

Most consumers should be excited by the future of connected consumer electronics. According to Namie, Jasper allows for wireless to be embedded in any type of non-handset industrial or consumer device. He adds: " We’ve seen the most growth in the automotive industry, including commercial and personal transportation systems for telematics and tracking; utilities – 'smart meter' deployments that push energy consumption data in real-time; consumer electronics – navigation devices, home automation, speed trap detectors; alarm security systems; point-of-sale, for credit card payment processing; and healthcare, such as remote patient monitoring."


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