Some customers with TomTom sat-navs have been informed that their devices will no longer get map updates. “Your maps will become outdated and as such navigation will be less accurate,” the firm informed customers. These changes may prove contentious, and so should be kept in mind when thinking about TomTom stock.
“It’s become clear that some of our older generation navigation devices don’t have adequate resources to run the newest maps and software,” the company said.
A spokesperson for TomTom told the BBC that the company had been “proactively” communicating with clients.
“A complete list of those affected devices is accessible on our website,” he said.
TomTom has made promises that active subscriptions to map updates will go on until subscriptions run out, but customers won’t be able to renew maps or get new software updates.
In an email to clients, the firm added: “We’ll continue to give quick GPS fix updates, so your device will continue to work as it does now.”
The BBC spoke with one user who was given a new sat-nav at Christmas.
Paula Hatcher’s partner purchased the Start 20 device because her previous sat-nav (an older model with the same name) had not come with lifetime maps.
“I have not even had the chance to update it even once, since the email I got this morning [advised] the withdrawal of lifetime maps,” she said.
When the BBC got in touch with TomTom, the company confirmed that there were two devices named “Start 20” and that Paula’s, which is the newer version, would, in fact, receive map updates.
A spokesperson for the firm said the TomTom website would be updated to reflect this naming issue and avoid misunderstanding.
However, other TomTom sat-nav models available at different online retailers seem to be among those that the firm has said will stop receiving updates.
Product descriptions are still stating that maps on these devices will be refreshed several times a year “for the lifetime of your device.”
On its website, TomTom clarifies that “lifetime” means the “useful life” of a device: “i.e., the period 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 no longer available.”
Another customer who purchased a TomTom Start 25 sat-nav in 2013 said he wouldn’t be acquiring another product from the company.
“I will use my present smartphone with updated maps,” said Chris Syntichakis.
TomTom’s sales of devices direct to clients have lately been in “severe decline,” according to analyst Chris Jones at Canalys.
“Evidently they have 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 battered by the rise of smartphone applications that offer parallel services and regular updates.
“Within months the [sat-navs] will fast become out-of-date when those updates stop showing,” he added.
“It is not just new roads; it is [information about] features on roads – road signs, speed limits, rights of way and crossings.”
TomTom stock has remained relatively steady over the past year.