TomTom still defensive over Apple Maps, says smartphones not a threat

TomTom still defensive over Apple Maps, says smartphones not a threat
Smartphones continue to chomp into the satnav market

When Apple Maps launched to huge criticism, many fingers were quickly pointed at TomTom, which had provided a lot of the mapping data for Apple.

But Cees van Dok, TomTom's head of user experience design, has continued to defend the company's part in it the debacle, telling TechRadar that it was down to some bad decisions at Cupertino, not TomTom.

"[It was] primarily because they had so many different sources of data that they were trying to merge all in one application," said Dok. "And that clearly didn't work out."

As for how the relationship between TomTom and Apple was moving ahead: "I can't reveal any details of what's happening there," he said, but added, "Apple is working on trying to improve the experience."

Mapping out the competition

But the bigger question on our lips was whether sat-nav devices still had a future with smartphones now offering to do much of the legwork - and at a more affordable price.

But despite shipping its own apps for iOS and Android, TomTom thinks there's still a calling for multiple in-car devices.

"I think the world we're going into will be a multi-screen word," he said. "I think there will always be an appetite for personal navigation devices."

Dok also isn't convinced that current smartphone apps such a Google's and Apple's offerings match up in terms of quality.

"It's not necessarily navigation," he said. "I don't think these guys are really focused on the driving.

"I think they're much more into 'How can I make a mapping app exploitable? How does it help my search experience, my advertisement model?' I think that's much more on the minds of smartphone mapmakers than it is about getting you in a car from A to B."

He added: "Our approach has to been integrate map browsing and navigation into a unified experience... in Google you're thrown into a completely different experience."

As for how TomTom is tackling the competition on the sat nav market itself, Dok said: "We understand what people are trying to get done in a car.

"I think many of our competitors have more of a technology view, sort of 'This is what we can do so this is why we do it' but at TomTom I think we look at why we would do certain things."

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.