Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Wake up and smell the coffee, TomTom - you're about to lose a customer.

CeBIT is the annual new tech show for all manner of consumer gadgets, including but not limited to computers, phones, and so on.

Now, for the last 18 months, I've been using a very good PPC - that's Pocket PC, which has the added advantage of being a phone and GPS as well. It's the iPAQ HP HW6915 Navigator. I've got lots of software on there, but the one I use the most in the car is the satnav, in the current case, TomTom version 6. And in the last 18 months, that's all I've been able to get for TomTom. No upgrades to 7, or 8 (the current personal Navigation Device standard for TomTom, by the way): Version 6 was the last version of TomTom for Pocket PCs and Smartphones in general.

Now, there have been rumours one way and the other regarding TomTom,and the features on the PNDs they have recently released are all well and good (such as Mapshare, providing the facility to automatically update maps from user uploaded reports, and so on), but nothing whatsoever in support of currently loyal customers, like me, who have TT v6 on their PPCs or Smartphones, and we are, it must be remembered, a reasonably large percentage of their customer base.

So, when I heard that TomTom had released a statement at the daily press conference at CeBIT (if you're there, you can harangue them at CeBIT Hall 15, Stand E14), I was all ears. Unfortunately, TomTom's response was basically "we've never left people in the cold for too long but there are no announcements regarding the navigator software today."

In the words of the person reporting this, they were saying STOP WORRYING.

Boiled down to "stop worrying" is it?

This after an utter age - 18 months or more - of literally zero comments regarding their either continuing support or lack of support for the PPC/PDA platforms. In the ever-so-slightly cleaned up vernacular, they're taking the bodily fluids with that one.

Now, a friend mentioned to me that it's probably cheaper for them to support their own PNDs than to support PPC/PDA software. This is NOT the issue. The issue at hand is whether they are going to continue, or not continue, to support what has, until now, been a very loyal customer base with PDAs and PPCs. The lack of information from one of the biggest companies in this market is frankly insulting to those of us with such equipment, and speaks highly of their complete and utter contempt for us - especially when you consider that we've spent a large sum of money with this company; TomTom v6 cost me close to a ton (£100) in the shops when I bought it, but that was 18 months ago, when TTv6 was the latest TomTom version out, and thus was more costly. Now it can be seen going for as little at sixty-odd quid in the on-line shops: That's purely due to TomTom Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) having later versions (now at CeBIT, it's v8, it seems) of the software on board.

The tragic thing about all this, is that they've made an industry bench-mark product, used by tens of thousands of people around the world. To my mind, this means that they have a certain level of responsibility to continue to support their products. Sorry if this sounds silly to some, but I have really had enough of companies and their scatological levels, and attitudes of, and to, customer support. TomTom appears to be one such company, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my perception of this.

So, it's crunch time for me. Do I continue to have a slim to zero hope that this SatNav provider will continue to support my ageing software with new versions of it, or do I move to another, more visibly supportive supplier? The answer's quite obvious when you put it that way, isn't it?

My decision has been a while brewing (the last few months, in fact), and is therefore reasonably well thought out. For my part (I can't speak for you, of course), TT have until the end of CeBIT to announce one way or the other that they will continue to provide PPC/PDA software on general release - not just specific pre-loaded PPC/PDAs and phones - or I for one will be voting with my wallet, and looking to support a different satnav software provider when it comes time to renew my kit.

There y'go, TomTom. Forewarned is forearmed. Not that I expect to see any announcements for us TT v6 licence holders, but if you do, make the announcement a good one.


Peter said...

Amen. Amen. Amen. I feel the same way.

Roger said...

well, I hope you enjoy the follow-on blant above, Peter. It took four drafts, a tooth-ache, and a sarcastic thumb to get the open letter above just right ;)