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"But Apple didn't want a relationship, just a one time cash transaction so that Apple can encroach on TomTom's business. Part of me suspects that Apple got the worst possible data set TomTom could deliver and still plausibly argue they met the requirements of their agreement with Apple. There was no strategic advantage in doing otherwise."

I disagree. Even if they gave them a high quality data set, that set is going to be obsolete within a year (let's say). Now Apple can either choose to keep obsolete data (which will definitely impact customers) or buy updated data from TomTom.

The scenario you propose doesn't provide a strategic benefit to TomTom because it does not address TomTom's long term disadvantage relative to Google and other companies in the mobile navigation space. Google's and Apple's mobile mapping services run on devices which can communicate data back to their services.

TomTom's problem is that their devices only communicate one direction. A partnership with Apple could have allowed TomTom to collect realtime data directly in the same way as their major competitors.

In the next twelve months, Apple will probably have collected more useful data than TomTom in many respects. That doesn't mean they will be successful in using it to their advantage, but it does mean that there is little reason for Apple to purchase a new dataset.

All TomTom devices can send data back - the Live and Work (fleet management) devices have a SIM, the older devices use the docking cradle to the PC.

And yes, there is a privacy policy. See http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/safeguarding-your-data/

But it would mean that Apple would have to rely on users to report any new road construction or road name changes. Just because the phone could communicate back, doesn't mean the user will or that the data will be correct.

Maybe my creativity is limited but I just don't see how Apple being able to collect data would help with getting updated maps. I think it could help with their directions since they know the most commonly taken routes and could actually even time people's routes to find which are truly the quickest, but I don't know how it would help with updating maps from road changes and the like.

I suspect that Google can detect road construction using data mining techniques...it's the sort of phenomenon that is relevant to mapping only because of its effect on movement.

I apologize for not being more clear, but when I said road construction I didn't mean just fixing of roads but adding new roads. In order to have those new roads in your system you need to update your data set.

I have fallen victim to this. I bought a new used car (it's new to me but a 2007 model) that has built in navigation. Between the date of manufacture of the nav disk and current date, an interstate was added/modified near me. Now everytime I go by that area my GPS says I'm in the middle of a field. In reality, I can't see a customer filing a ticket with Apple to get that road in the GPS system. Even if they do, Apple would most likely need coordinates. This construction of new roads is what TomTom has a temporary strategic advantage over Apple (only temporary since Apple could get a department together to monitor all new roads).

Have you seen the iOS6 Maps problems-reporting UI? It's simple, it's fast, it's right in the place where you encountered the bug.

The other thing you ignore is that people want their local data to be correct in the maps they use, for practical reasons. I too reported new construction around my home everywhere I could, because it's, among other things, in my best interest to have my address easy to find (by guests or postal drivers, for example) on any GPS out there.

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