For a while I have been wondering how TomTom stays in business. I remember owning a few of their products and found them incredibly useful. Before the advent of smart phones they had a touch screen and great software – simple to use devices that made the most of the magical Global Positioning System. It was a joy to use their products and I always enjoyed having a play with their latest model on my frequent trips to Halfords (for more car cleaning gear).
But with the advent of smart phones, the need for a separate satnav seems to have become completely redundant. New cars are introducing satnav as standard, some cars like Audi’s new TT has even replaced the dashboard completely with an integrated satnav screen, so where is the future market for TomTom?
Well the other weekend I found to my delight and expense that they have diversified into the world of sport watches. Being ignorant to what a sport watch was (surely that just meant waterproof?) I soon found myself ordering the very latest TomTom Multisport watch for my Iron Man mad girlfriend.
By combining GPS, bluetooth, motion sensors, heart rate monitor and bicycle sensors they have managed to build a watch that can completely monitor everything a triathlete does for their entire race. So it can map (using GPS) distance, height, speed and when synced with your iPad present all the data in pretty graphs along with a complete route map. It can also measure strokes, number of lengths and calories burned in the pool (or more usefully open water) and then anything you can want while you cycle. And for the user it is just a watch, well apart from the heart monitor which it talks to wirelessly.
Considering this is their first generation of the product I am very impressed with how sorted and bug free it is. It has certainly made training for my other half more interesting and now she tries to beat her previous scores. Her new favourite pastime is showing me all the data and analysing it.
So while sport watches won’t make TomTom millions, it is a very clever use of their technology and demonstrates that they are an innovative company who will be around for many years to come, even if people don’t need satnav for their cars.