TomTom company logoFounded in 1991, the Dutch company TomTom has established itself as one of the most popular producers of consumer electronics in Europe. TomTom global positioning systems are sold worldwide, and have gained a reputation for accuracy and reliability that is matched by few of its competitors. TomTom leads the industry in the production and design of high-tech vehicle navigation systems and advanced sports watches.

TomTom Navigation is broken up into three business units: consumer, automotive, and licensing. Each of these units is responsible for different parts of a GPS unit’s design, testing, production, and marketing. TomTom has several departments dedicated to working on software for the GPS units along with online integration and other features. TomTom currently employs over four thousand people worldwide and sells products to over 37 countries.

The History of TomTom Navigation

It’s a little known fact that originally, TomTom never set out to make GPS devices or sports watches. They were originally geared towards designing business-to-business devices for credit card readers and bar-code readers. In the mid 1990s the company shifted focus to programming consumer-based PDA software and mapping software. TomTom created some of the first interactive maps for PDA devices. Many of their early map programs were well received, so TomTom then went on to make EnRoute, Citymaps, and Routeplanner.

In the year 2002, TomTom released their first GPS navigation program, which came bundled with a Windows CE-powered PDA and is cited as being one of the first vehicle-based GPS systems. An updated version of the program came in 2003, pushing TomTom to the forefront of the consumer GPS market. After several years of designing satellite navigation programs for PDA devices, TomTom began to produce their own standalone GPS devices. The TomTom ONE was released in the mid-2000s and quickly became the industry standard for vehicle navigation systems.

Consumer GPS Systems

TomTom VIA 1535TM 5-Inch Bluetooth Car GPS Navigator

TomTom VIA 1535TM Car GPS Navigator

TomTom produces many models of consumer GPS systems, including specific vehicle models for cars, trucks, vans, and RVs, along with sports watches, and smartphone GPS applications. Right now, TomTom has several product lines of car GPS devices, such as the TomTom Go, TomTom Start and TomTom VIA. TomTom and Nike Sportwatch are working closely together and has proven to be very successful combination of GPS runners watches.

TomTom’s portable GPS units can be affixed to the dashboard of any vehicle, and then used for satellite navigation or one of the other features included in a modern TomTom GPS. Many units feature voice activation and live traffic reporting, which helps save the driver, time, money, and aggravation. Portable vehicle navigation devices by TomTom are competitively priced, and come loaded with high-tech features. Each unit is compact, lightweight, and versatile, making them easy to swap from car to car or reposition on the fly. Many people prefer portable GPS systems, because when you arrive at your destination you can store the unit in your pocket to minimize the risk of theft or a break-in.

TomTom is also the GPS producer of choice for many large car manufacturers. Many of the GPS systems built into the dashboards of European cars are designed and produced by TomTom. The built-in units typically have a larger screen than their portable counterparts, and are easier to read and operate. The device usually comes with a host of added features, because the larger system allows a lot more programs to be installed and data to be saved.

Along with car navigation systems, TomTom also produce a line of advanced GPS sports watches. Whether you’re a golfer, runner, swimmer, or cyclist, TomTom has in combination with Nike a sports watch that will suit your needs and help improve your workout. It’s named the Nike+ SportWatch. The GPS systems come with integrated programs that will monitor and track the user’s distance and performance while offering up-to-the-minute GPS information.

Advanced TomTom Services

TomTom devices are well regarded for having some of the most advanced applications of any GPS currently on the market.

TomTom PLUS

One of the first services offered by TomTom was their subscription based TomTom PLUS program. The PLUS program warns drivers about upcoming speed cameras, provides live weather updates, issue traffic warning, and reroute the driver to avoid congested areas. The TomTom PLUS program is available for subscribers in many parts of Europe and the US via Bluetooth. It uses the Internet-connected cell phone to receive and transmit data, but it isn’t recommended for anyone with a limited cell phone plan.

TomTom LIVE

In October of 2008 TomTom released LIVE services, which allowed users to receive updates over mobile phone networks. The GPS units packaged with TomTom LIVE came with a SIM card, so the devices could transit and receive live traffic data without having to be connected to a Bluetooth enabled device. The live transfer of data enabled other services like TomTom HD Traffic, Safety Alerts, and Internet searches to be possible without interfering with the user’s cell phone data plan.

Map Share

Launched in June 2007, TomTom Map Share allowed users to makes changes to the maps on their GPS device, and share the changes with other TomTom users. For instance users could block and unblock streets, change the direction of traffic if a street is one way only, edit street names, and add points of interest. The improvements are shared every time the user connects their GPS device to their Mac or PC computer. Once connected, the device will install TomTom Home, which is the content management system for all TomTom products. After installation is completed, the updates are uploaded to TomTom’s servers and shared with other users.

HD Traffic

TomTom’s first traffic monitoring service, HD traffic provides live traffic data by combining information from the United States government and the geo-location of ever mobile phone user on the road. The HD traffic system detects and changes in the traffic flow on your current route, and reroutes you around any delays. The system receives updates from the TomTom servers every three minutes so you always have the most up-to-date traffic information.

Many of the TomTom devices currently using HD traffic receive and react to road congestion warnings automatically, without distracting the user from the road ahead. Rerouting can be set to automatically occur, so the device doesn’t need to ask for permission to send you on an alternate route.

Originally launched in the Netherlands in 2007, HD traffic was an instant hit and was then implemented in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Switzerland. By 2010 TomTom live services and HD Traffic where available in 17 European countries, all of North America, South Africa, and New Zealand.