RIM acquires Dash Navigation


Although neither company has issued a formal statement, Research In Motion has confirmed that it recently acquired Dash Navigation for "an undisclosed sum".

According to the Washington Post, RIM declined to comment on how Dash will be incorporated into its business, but the company will likely use Dash's technology to upgrade the GPS in its own devices in some capacity.

Although RIM's acquisition is on a slightly smaller scale than the Nokia-NAVTEQ deal, Dash's technology does provide RIM with some important mapping and car navigation technologies, many of which can be applied more broadly to mobile phones.

If the connectivity feature of Dash is maintained by RIM, this could prove to be a useful tool for Blackberry users, given how many Blackberry devices are out there.

One wonders why RIM chose to keep news of its acquisition under wraps. It was obvious that all was not well in the Dash camp …

Dash's announcement in November, that it would stop producing connected PNDs and instead focus on delivering service to third party devices, is the last press release the company issued.

According to GPS Business News, the acquisition is a strategic move for RIM, which has so far been completely reliant on its partners to offer turn-by-turn navigation and location-based services. With Dash on board, RIM is likely to launch its own navigation solution with local search and "crowdsource" traffic information in the same way the Dash Express device was operating.

Furthermore, Dash created a navigation and LBS platform that could be easily adapted to a device like the Blackberry, leveraging the existing data connection. As part of that LBS platform, Dash had released an open API to allow third parties to build widgets. First developers of these widgets were companies such as Coldwell Bankers, Funambole, Weatherbug, Trapster and MediaGuide. If extended, this initiative could become an interesting ecosystem for LBS developers and content providers.

Should RIM's strategy include developing and selling the core navigation functionality and letting developers build additional blocks, the company's acquisition of Dash could present a serious threat to existing mobile navigation providers like Telmap, Networks in Motion and TeleNav, who are currently making a significant business on the Blackberry platform.

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