TomTom is facing a major backlash after it was revealed that sat-navs sold by the Company will no longer receive map updates this is despite the Company offering “Lifetime Updates”.
It now turns out that the Tom Tom definition of “Lifetime Updates” is the life of a production according to Tom Tom.
On its website, TomTom explains that “lifetime” means the “useful life” of a device: “i.e.: the period of time TomTom supports your device with updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available anymore.”
“Your maps will become out-of-date and as such navigation will be less accurate,” the firm told customers recently.
In Australia a Tom Tom device which observers claim is today “nowhere as good” as the mapping found on Google Maps are selling for as much as $500.
“It has become clear that some of our older generation navigation devices do not have sufficient resources to run the newest maps and software.” the Company claimed.
What has not been explained is how a $99 Android phone can run Google Maps but not a Tom Tom device such as their Start 20 device.
A spokesman for TomTom told the BBC the company had been “proactively” communicating with customers.
“A full list of those affected devices is available on our website,” he said.
On their website Tom Tom is charging $89 for a map of Australia and that only includes 4 updates.
Google Maps is free with the Android operating system and updates are both automatic and free.
TomTom has said active subscriptions to map updates will continue until a subscription run out, but customers will not be able to renew maps or receive new software updates.
In an email to customers, the firm added: “We will continue to provide quick GPS fix updates, so your device will continue to function as it does now.”
Several TomTom sat-nav models available at various online retailers appear to be among those that the firm has said will cease to receive updates.
Product descriptions continue to state that maps on these devices will be refreshed multiple times a year “for the lifetime of your device”.
On its website, TomTom explains that “lifetime” means the “useful life” of a device: “ie: the period of time TomTom supports your device with updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more.”
TomTom’s sales of devices direct to customers have recently been in “severe decline”, according to analyst Chris Jones at Canalys.
“Clearly they’ve identified a business market for future growth – that includes navigation and traffic services integrated into cars,” he explained.
He said the market for personal sat-navs had been eroded by the rise of smartphone apps that offer similar services and frequent updates.
“Within months the [sat-navs] will quickly become out-of-date when those updates stop appearing,” he added.
“It’s not just new roads, it’s [information about] features on roads – road signs, speed limits, rights of way and crossings.”