|To: tech101 who wrote (195)||11/6/2007 11:39:11 AM|
|Why Microsoft Should Enter the GPS Space |
Dean Reese, November 05, 2007
The GPS device and GPS content space needs consolidation to survive. You have device makers Timble (TRMB), Garmin (GRMN) and Tom Tom and you have content providers Navteq (NVT) and Tele Atlas (TLATF.PK). As more handheld devices utilize GPS, the opportunities for device makers shrink while content becomes more of a commodity. In the end, some of these companies have to be absorbed to survive.
The events of the past month seem more like musical chairs than calculated strategic decision making. eBay's (EBAY) Skype quickly comes to mind.
Nokia (NOK) does not need Navteq – As I wrote before, this is a marriage headed for divorce. Nokia is the market leader. They need to stick to expanding their global market share.
Garmin does not need to be a cell phone maker – As I wrote before, this is not a core competency.
Garmin does not need Tele Atlas – Tele Atlas is the market leader, but why buy content when it is fast becoming a commodity?
Who can step up, bring the pieces together and build the next generation? Microsoft (MSFT). Garmin and competitor Trimble need a suitor and Microsoft would be a great fit for either company.
Why is Microsoft a good fit?
Microsoft wants and needs to expand their lines of business
Microsoft has the Microsoft Mobile Smartphone
Microsoft has a GIS/Mapping platform with the Virtual Earth and MapPoint products
Garmin’s software can run on the Microsoft Mobile Smartphone platform
Trimble already runs on the Microsoft Mobile Smartphone platform
Microsoft is hitting on all cylinders and the time is right. Does this seem too simple and logical? Yes.
Disclosure: Author holds a position in MSFT
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: tech101 who wrote (196)||11/7/2007 2:16:37 PM|
|I strongly disagree with the author that Navteq's business is headed towards commodity. It isn't a business that can crop up overnight with minimal funding like a Web2.0. |
Whoever wants to enter navigation services will have to license from Nokia or Tom Tom, if they set it up that way. Alternatively, if they're big or assume they will be big, they may save on licensing costs by taking a huge upfront hit in costs and time in generating the data themselves.
The only other way I could see is Google setting up a consortium of open source types to each individually contribute, aggregate the data, and ensure a strict wiki-like environment to try and control data integrity.
I strongly wish NOK didn't buy NVT.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (3)|
|To: jmiller099 who wrote (198)||11/20/2007 4:29:05 PM|
|Do we believe that our government will allow for the only two digital map companies to be owned by foreign nations with America left for nothing?|
We launched the satellites, we have GPS gears, but we will be left without software and data?
Will that happen? I don't believe.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|To: jmiller099 who wrote (198)||11/20/2007 4:30:19 PM|
|The Paperless Map Is the Killer App |
WHAT'S NEXT -- TELECOM
NOVEMBER 26, 2007, BusinessWeek
Forget media downloads. Cell customers really want GPS and navigation features
First, cell phones made the streetcorner pay phone obsolete. Now they're doing away with the need to ask for directions. A surge in phones with built-in satellite navigation capability has sparked a wave of creative mapping and locating services. And it has set off a multibillion-dollar scramble by companies to buy up digital navigation technologies.
The number of navigation-ready cell phones will hit 162 million this year, or more than seven times the number of such devices sold for use in cars or other nonphone gadgets, says researcher iSuppli. You only have to scan phone company ads to see how they are touting navigational features: The new N95 smartphone from Nokia (NOK ) plays music and videos, but it also has a chip that receives signals from the government's Global Positioning System satellites, enabling the phone to display maps. Research In Motion (RIMM ) is already putting navigation features into its BlackBerry smartphones. Other big phonemakers including Motorola (MOT ) and Samsung are doing the same. Apple (AAPL ), having put a version of Google (GOOG ) Maps on its iPhone, is widely expected to add GPS chips and live mapping in 2008.
Phone carriers and software developers alike have been quick to offer location-based services that go way beyond simple street directions. Verizon's (VZ ) Chaperone service allows parents to track the location of kids from their phones or on the Web and sends a message when they reach their destination. Loopt lets Sprint (S ) and Boost Mobile customers track friends--imagine a buddy list overlaid on a map--and sends alerts when they're nearby. Services like those rang up $92 million in sales in the third quarter, or 58% of what consumers spent to download software to phones, Nielsen Mobile found. This spring, wireless users spent on average nearly twice as much on navigation as they did to download music to their phones, says David Gill, a Nielsen Mobile analyst.
To understand why phone-based navigation is suddenly so hot, talk with Debby Ramundo. The senior project manager at Seattle's Swedish Medical Center, Ramundo oversees 200 doctors and nurses who visit patients who can't travel to a doctor's office. Like millions of other people, clinicians are hard-pressed to get to the right place on time. That can be especially tricky in fast-growing Seattle, where new residential streets pop up out of nowhere. So last year the medical center handed out GPS-equipped Nextel cell phones. The phones offer such features as spoken turn-by-turn directions.
Such options until recently could be found only in $300-plus dashboard devices. The software, from TeleNav, a Sunnyvale (Calif.) company, costs each user $10 a month. But Ramundo says efficiency gains for medical workers more than offset the added costs: "Every hour they're not here in the office getting directions or getting lost is a billable hour they're out seeing patients."
THE GPS BANDWAGON
For years, satellite-based navigation technology was restricted to the military, which used it to position troops or guide missiles. The government purposely made GPS signals too fuzzy for civilians other than hikers or boaters to find useful. That changed in 2000, though, when civilians were given access to more accurate signals. An industry quickly sprang up for car-based navigation, which is a $6.8 billion business today, says iSuppli.
Now GPS phones are embedded with tiny chips that receive signals from the collection of 31 GPS satellites that blanket every inch of the Earth with a faint radio signal. A receiver needs to be within range of at least four satellites at once to determine its location accurately. That is drawn on-screen, matching latitude and longitude with maps sent via wireless Net connections.
As more players jump into navigation, it has triggered a wave of deal-making that reflects the nervousness of established players. Makers of car-based or other dedicated (nonphone) devices worry that competitors will gain control of essential mapping data, which show names and locations of streets, homes, restaurants, and hotels and must be regularly updated.
The two companies supplying that data, Chicago-based Navteq (NVT ) and Netherlands-based Tele Atlas, are now being rolled up. In July, one of the largest car-navigation outfits, Dutch concern TomTom, moved to acquire Tele Atlas for $2.3 billion. Stock in rival Navteq soared on the expectation it would be acquired by Garmin (GRMN ), TomTom's Olathe (Kan.)-based competitor, or perhaps Google or Microsoft (MSFT ), which operate mapping sites. But on Oct. 1 phone giant Nokia jumped in with an $8.1 billion deal to buy Navteq--a price nearly 14 times its $582 million in 2006 sales.
Faced with having to buy mapping data from a competitor, Garmin announced on Oct. 31 a hostile $3.3 billion bid for Tele Atlas. TomTom responded with a $4.3 billion offer. Garmin has until Dec. 4 to counter. The buyout binge isn't likely to end there. Analysts say possible targets include TeleNav, which supplies navigation software to carriers, and its rival Networks In Motion of Aliso Viejo, Calif. Also in the spotlight is Kirkland (Wash.)-based Inrix, spun off from Microsoft in 2004. It supplies live traffic data on 55,000 miles of U.S. roads. Its sole competitor, Traffic.com, was bought earlier this year by Navteq, and is becoming part of Nokia.
For navigation outfits that see Nokia as a competitor, that raised the possibility of losing access to traffic data as well as mapping data. So they're furiously signing agreements with Inrix, says President and CEO Bryan Mistele: "The last 120 days have been the best days in our company's history."
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|To: jmiller099 who wrote (198)||2/20/2008 2:15:18 PM|
|The Cheaper GPS Gets, the Better for NVT |
GRMN is knocked down 9% today with positive surprises on both revenue and profit thanks to the worries on price and competitions. However, the cheaper as GPS gets, the more maps will be sold, and NVT will benefit greatly since there are only two map producers in the world.
I just downloaded a N. America map for my Tomtom Go 720 I bought in UK last fall. The cost - 80 bucks, Ouch !
Updated from 1:36 p.m. EST on Feb. 19. Garmin is confirming its reputation as the Rodney Dangerfield of the stock market: No matter how well the company performs, it gets no respect. The stock is down 8% as I write, as investors react negatively to comments on the call that really shouldn't be a cause for concern. The results themselves were spectacular, with EPS of $1.31 beating Street estimates by 20 cents on revenue that doubled year over year. to $1.22 billion, well ahead of the $1.05 billion consensus. Adding fuel to the fire, management's 2008 guidance was positive, indicating revenue well ahead of the Street ($4.5 billion vs. $4.26 billion) and EPS "exceeding" the current consensus $4.40. Investor sentiment soured on the additional commentary on 2008. Management admitted (shocking!) that personal navigation devices are a competitive market and average selling prices should decline 20% next year. I...
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|
|To: tech101 who wrote (201)||2/20/2008 2:16:41 PM|
|THE TRANSFORMERS: CELLPHONES AS COMPUTERS|
Apple, Google drive changes in industry;
A FOCUS ON SOFTWARE
By CASSELL BRYAN-LOW
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
February 19, 2008
THE CELLPHONE INDUSTRY is undergoing one of the most dramatic periods of change of its 25-year history.
The reason: The mobile phone is morphing from a device that mainly makes calls into a tiny computer that combines the Web-browsing capabilities of a desktop PC with a host of services for on-the-go users.
A big catalyst for these changes comes not from the ranks of established industry players but from two relative newcomers, Apple Inc. and Google Inc. These companies bring with them expertise in the worlds of computing and the Internet and are helping spur sweeping changes, from the way mobile handsets look to the wireless services we use. They even are prompting traditional players to adapt their business models.
Computer maker Apple, which launched the iPhone in the U.S. in June and since has rolled it out in several European countries, said it sold four million iPhones globally through mid-January. With iPhone's sizable touch screen and easy Web browsing, some in the industry consider it one of the first devices to bring the full Internet to a cellphone.
Meanwhile, Google has teamed with a large group of mobile-handset makers, cellular carriers and other technology companies to make mobile-phone software, which is expected to hit the market in the second half. For several years, Google has made software applications that allow Internet searching via cellphones, but the new software will run the guts of the phone, known as the operating system, which controls applications and interacts with the hardware. The move could pave the way for mass-market cellphones that access advanced Internet services and carry its potentially lucrative advertising.
At stake is the direction of the $874 billion global cellphone industry, according to research concern Strategy Analytics Inc. There are roughly three billion mobile-phone users in the world, which is about half of the world's population. Apple and Google "have immense global influence," says Kang-Heui Cha, head designer of mobile phones at South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics Inc. "With their appearance, we can expect to have a lot more competition in the industry."
To be sure, Apple and Google face big challenges in the complex and already crowded wireless market, which is far from their respective core areas of expertise. Apple has launched only one handset design, while no handset maker has yet launched a cellphone based on Google's operating system. Their moves require heavy investment in time and management focus, and the companies need to navigate delicate relationships with cellphone carriers. The carriers are the key channels for cellphone distribution in many parts of the developed world, but they are nervous about losing turf in the brand battle over cellphone handsets.
Nevertheless, Apple's and Google's moves underscore a shift in focus within the cellphone industry to software from hardware.
"In terms of building a cellphone, it's becoming easier and easier from a hardware perspective," thanks to advancements in technology such as the ability to integrate functions on a single chip, says Andy Rubin, Google's senior director of mobile platforms. As a result, "more focus has been put on software," he said.
Many in the industry expect that one immediate benefit to consumers will be an improved choice of cellphones as established handset makers respond with new devices that are easier -- and more fun -- to use. Apple's sleek iPhone has raised the bar of consumer expectations, with its candy-colored icons and touch screen that lets users flip through songs and other content stored on the handset with a flick of a finger.
The iPhone has been "a kick up the backside" for the handset makers, says Matthew Key, chief executive of O2, Telefónica SA's European wireless unit. O2 is joining with Apple to sell the iPhone in the U.K. Christian Lindholm, director of Fjord PLC, a London-based wireless consulting firm, adds, "The benchmark now is the iPhone. Whatever experience is developed needs to outperform the iPhone."
As handset makers race to catch up, analysts say consumers can expect to see an increasing number of cellphones with iPhone-like features, such as larger screens for better Internet browsing and snazzier interfaces. "Everyone will try and mimic it," says Ben Wood, an analyst at wireless research company CCS Insight, of Solihull, England.
By bringing their understanding of computer software to mobile phones, Apple and Google could help spur developments in handsets. That could include the ability to search for contacts, photographs, emails and other contents stored on handsets in the same way consumers do these things on their personal computers with products such as Google Desktop Search.
"There are still tremendous amounts of innovation in a core phone operating system that needs to be done," Mr. Lindholm says.
While competition has stepped up, existing handset makers are benefiting from the increased attention paid to high-end mobile devices, thanks in large part to Apple's marketing machine around the iPhone's launch.
"The trend has been cheaper and cheaper phones; this is a real shot in the arm to some of the manufacturers," Mr. Wood says.
David Steel, a vice president of marketing in the mobile division of Samsung Electronics Co., the world's second-largest handset maker by market share, says the company has had higher-than-expected sales of its touch-screen handset, called F700, since its November launch in Europe. The iPhone "is helping consumers understand that they can access [on a mobile phone] the whole range of Internet services they are used to using," he said.
Analysts expect Apple and Google to spur a whole range of development in services that consumers can access on the go, as more people browse the Web on mobile devices. That could include the creation of personalized home pages or playing of sophisticated videogames, as well as mobile-specific services, such as turn-by-turn directions or searching for the nearest restaurant or hotel.
Google, with its plan to allow third-party developers to access tools to build additional features on top of its operating-system software, in particular could prompt an array of new features for cellphones. The software-developer community "is much more powerful" in generating new ideas than any software company or service provider, says Yves Maitre, head of devices at French-based carrier Orange, a unit of France Telecom SA.
Cellphone users also may see lower prices, but they'll have to put up with more advertising in exchange. That is because Google, with its Internet-advertising savvy, is rallying developments in cellphone advertising, which could be used to offset the cost of airtime or services such as downloads of music or video. Google executives have said cellular services or handsets could eventually be subsidized by revenue from the advertising consumers view on cellphones. Many in the industry believe the ability to track users' whereabouts makes mobiles a lucrative source of advertising revenue.
While analysts believe it could be a while before advertising revenue takes off, there already are signs of what is to be expected. A new British wireless provider called Blyk Ltd. offers consumers bundles of text messages and voice minutes free if they receive six advertising messages a day from dozens of companies, including Adidas AG and L'Oréal SA. Industry giants such as service provider Vodafone Group PLC and handset maker Nokia Corp. are experimenting with advertising, aiming to be better positioned against Google when mobile advertising does take off.
The arrival of the computing-world giants also is helping to spur changes in how some established companies view their business. Nokia, the world's largest handset maker, is pushing into Internet-related services such as music downloading and maps, the strongholds of Apple and Google, respectively. To do so, the Finnish handset maker has announced a string of acquisitions of companies in Internet-related niches, including the planned $8.1 billion acquisition of U.S. navigation-software maker Navteq Corp. Last month, Nokia restructured its organization to carve out a unit to focus on the new direction.
Nokia Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo says the company needs to be alert to remain competitive against new entrants that are taking on the industry with different strategies. "We are fighting battles against the traditional competition as well as the newcomers like Apple," he says. "It's not only one model, one competitor; it's many business models."
With the shift toward services such as Internet and navigation on cellphones, he said, "What we are going to experience now will be the biggest change the cellphone industry has ever experienced."
Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp., which launched its first cellphone software in 2001, has accelerated efforts to broaden its reach from its traditional base of business customers to consumers. The U.S. software giant recently bought Musiwave, a company that provides music services to mobile operators and media companies, for $46 million. "We've given it more urgency and more weight" as a result of Apple's move into mobile phones, says Pieter Knook, senior vice president of Microsoft's mobile unit.
Microsoft also serves as a lesson in how hard it is to crack the mobile market; its efforts to get its software in cellphones has taken longer than it expected. One big challenge has been building ties with cellular operators, which, in many markets, control the distribution of handsets. Says Mr. Knook, "We have found there certainly is a balance between the experience you want to shine through to the end user and how much the operator wants to customize it."
Seven years after entering the market for operating systems in so-called smart phones -- which can send email, surf the Internet and download software such as videogames -- Microsoft held a 12.2% market share as of the third quarter of 2007, according to researcher Canalys.com Ltd., of Reading, England. That puts it in the No. 2 spot, behind Symbian Ltd., a U.K.-based consortium, of which Nokia had a 68.1% share.
Write to Cassell Bryan-Low at email@example.com
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: tech101||2/29/2008 8:31:36 PM|
|Navteq may navigate smoothly by EC|
by Scott Stuart
Updated 06:09 PM EST, Feb-28-2008
Market rumors that the European Commission's review of TomTom NV's acquisition of digital map company Tele Atlas NV is moving forward have raised hopes that the similar $7.7 billion merger of mapping company Navteq Corp. with Nokia Oyi could get past the European regulator without an extended review.
The TomTom-Tele Atlas deal was pushed into a second phase review Nov. 28, and the EC was expected to file its statement of objections this week. Risk arbitrageurs think that the issuance of the SO has been delayed for 10 days at the request of TomTom. The implication is that the company is offering some form of concession to address the concerns of the regulator, which would need to be market tested.
Arbs think this means the EC review of the Tele Atlas deal is moving along well, which in turn implies that Nokia's acquisition of Navteq could be approved swiftly.
Nokia and Tele Atlas announced their deal Oct. 10 and notified the EC under European Union antitrust regulations Feb. 19. The deadline for the first-phase review of that deal could be March 28.
Under the EC's rules, that could be extended 10 business days if the regulator is market testing undertakings proposed by Nokia.
Shares of Navteq have risen roughly $1 since Wednesday to $75.70 as it appeared that the close could come sooner than expected.
On Thursday, Navteq traded at a spread of $2.30, or 3%, to their $78 value under Nokia's all cash deal.
Navteq shareholders approved the merger Dec. 12, and it received early termination from U.S. antitrust regulators Dec. 5. The acquisition of Navteq cleared a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States on Dec. 6. The deal still hinges on the EC approval.
The transaction could also be subject to review in individual European jurisdictions, but the merger agreement provides that Nokia close the deal provided that such "foreign antitrust conditions" do not entail waiting periods or concessions that would impair the company's operations or result in substantial fines.
The deal, therefore, should be able to close when Brussels signs off.
Arbs have been scrutinizing the Tele Atlas review process in Europe for clues as to how the Navteq deal will proceed there. But there are reasons to think the Navteq deal could escape a phase-two review regardless of the outcome of the Tele Atlas deal, sources said.
Nokia is not a primary competitor in the market for personal navigation devices, as TomTom is, so that deal does not raise the same concerns as the tie-up between TomTom and Tele Atlas, where TomTom could in theory limit its access of competing navigation devices to digital mapping data. Moreover, Navteq entered an extended contract to provide such data to Garmin International Inc. in November when Garmin dropped its own bid for Tele Atlas.
TomTom is likely offering the EC assurances that it will provide similar long-term contracts with other PND providers, as Nokia proactively did, sources said.
The proxy for the Navteq deal reveals that, in early conversations, Nokia said that it planned "to run Navteq as a largely independent entity in view of the financial importance to Nokia of continuing to serve and grow the Navteq customer base."
That should placate competing device makers. TomTom's competitors could feel much more threatened.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read|
|From: tech101||3/17/2008 11:40:18 AM|
|ESRI Joins the NAVTEQ Network for Developers(TM) as a Zone Partner|
Monday March 17, 10:20 am ET
NAVTEQ and ESRI Team Up to Provide Developers with Easy Access to Online Tools, Software and Support
PALM SPRINGS, Calif., March 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NAVTEQ (NYSE: NVT - News) a leading global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, announced today from the ESRI Worldwide Business Partner Conference, the addition of the ESRI Zone within the NAVTEQ Network for Developers (http://www.nn4d.com) development program, nn4d.com. ESRI, a GIS software leader will now be a Zone Partner, enabling them to provide NN4D developers with access to a comprehensive environment for rapid application development, tools, documentation and support.The NAVTEQ Network for Developers provides registered members with a diverse assortment of valuable data and tools.
Simply by joining the free NN4D program, developers benefit from NAVTEQ® map data samples as well as industry-leading geospatial tools from ESRI and others for evaluation and development. Additionally, the site offers comprehensive technical information, market information, developer forums, frequently asked questions and e-mail technical support provided by both NAVTEQ and ESRI experts.
"Bringing the ESRI Zone to the NN4D combines the development resources of two industry leaders to the benefit of the developer community," said Marc Naddell, vice president, Partner and Developer Programs, NAVTEQ. "We believe that ESRI's powerful development tools, software and spatial analysis support combined with NN4D's comprehensive array of data samples and information will enable the development of next-generation, location-based solutions."
The NN4D is also directly collaborating with the ESRI Developer Network (EDN). EDN is a subscription program with a growing user base that offers developers the resources they need to create and prototype leading-edge and location-enabled applications on the ArcGIS platform.
"We're enthusiastic about joining the NAVTEQ Network for Developers community," stated Jack Dangermond, president, ESRI. "By collaborating with NAVTEQ, we hope to make it easier for developers to obtain access to data and geospatial software platforms and tools."
Both NAVTEQ and ESRI are active champions of the developer arena. In 2003, NAVTEQ launched the first NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge®, which has helped invigorate the market by accelerating the delivery of new location-enabled wireless applications. This industry-leading competition, which ESRI continues to support as a sponsor, offers a prize pool of up to $3,000,000 including cash and data license fees from NAVTEQ. More information regarding the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge can be found at lbschallenge.com.
NAVTEQ will be exhibiting at the ESRI Business Partner Conference from March 15 through March 18, 2007 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Booth #7.
|RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)|