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TomTom in trouble. Possible market exit?


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I've been following TomTom's situation in the market for months. It's not that it's a company with low profitability, quite the opposite, but lately it's been directing all its efforts to parts of its business where they are leaders and are leaving other divisions, such as Sports.

The situation is complicated. At the end of September announced the dismissal of 136 workers of the sports division, some of which are at the top of the chain of command, so it is not a mere reorganization of workers or redistribution of tasks. These are roles in the company that have been left empty and which no one has yet come in to replace.

It's not something you just intuit, they've expressed it themselves in the words of CEO Harold Goddijn: «Los ingresos por hardware fueron más bajos de lo planeado debido a las decepcionantes ventas de la división de Deportes. El mercado de wearables no ha estado a la altura de las expectativas. Por este motivo y porque queremos enfocarnos en nuestros negocios de Automóvil, Licencias y Telemática, estamos revisando opciones estratégicas para Deportes.»

Y continúa: «Nuestra estrategia es continuar nuestro desarrollo en tecnologías de navegación para proporcionar contenido basado en localización, software y servicios para clientes de empresa, con altos márgenes e ingresos recurrentes».

This was after the earnings presentation to investors in the second quarter of 2017The division's sales (included in consumer and other end-customer products) fell by 20% compared to 2016.

TomTom Q2 Sales

True, not all of the losses are in the Sports section, as that category also includes car navigators, which is clearly in decline. But the figures for the second quarter of 2016 did not yet include the new Runner 3 and Adventurer that were introduced later, so even the renewal of the range has not served to maintain decent numbers.

And it doesn't stop there. A couple of weeks ago they showed third-quarter figures, and the bleeding is even greater.

TomTom Q3 Sales

-29% y casi 40 millones de euros menos. Y además rebajan la previsión de 2017 de 950 millones de Euros a 900 millones, «gracias a» la división de Deportes. Es decir, desde arriba están poniendo nombre y apellidos a los culpables de las malas cifras.


You don't have to look far for guilt

The truth is that the situation in which they find themselves is partly due to a lack of foresight in the development of new products and the poor performance of others.

A device that probably hasn't even come close to sales targets has been TomTom TouchThe Dutch were late in coming to the market for activity monitors with a novel approach such as body composition analysis, but seem not to have caught on in the market. Amazon Buyer Reviews are not very favorable either.

The range TomTom Runner 3/Spark 3 and Adventurer The results will have been moderate, but since the changes they saw with respect to previous models were not too great, it is logical to think that not many owners of previous models have chosen to switch to the new model.

And here I think is the main culprit of the drop in sales of TomTom, which is none other than the lack of evolution of their product. Except for some small differences, the software proposal of the clock is the same since the original TomTom Runner. Yes, they have changed the web and improved the mobile application, but the features offered by the clocks have not seen great improvements. The change from Runner 2 to Runner 3 has simply brought the addition of navigation, but the training options and other types of metrics are exactly the same. And one of the most requested improvements, as is the possibility of training intervals with respect to a target (something quite basic), is still not present.

TomTom has always based its strategy on supporting quite a few events and quite a few athletes, thus trying to obtain some visibility. But in my opinion, the effort they make in promoting themselves has not been matched by an effort in the technical part. They even sponsor athletes who participate in competitions where their product is not viable, as is the case with Iván Raña or Saleta Castro. And the fact is that TomTom's multisports devices are quite basic and not very compatible with triathlon. You cannot hold a competition by linking the three sports, and they do not support swimming in open water. It is also not possible to pair a power meter, which is key for any long-distance triathlete.

Therefore, any follower of these athletes will see that they wear TomTom (although on many occasions they compete without any kind of watch, as is the case with Raña), but they do not consider buying it because they are simply not suitable for their sport. I think that this is a tremendous strategic error and that these resources should be used in other aspects.

The future of TomTom

If you ask me how I see TomTom's future, I honestly wouldn't know what to tell you. Obviously they are reviewing their market positions, something logical and that any serious company would do after the notable drop in sales of the Sports division. The segment they have always focused on has been occasional and not high-level fitness, which is being invaded by smart watches with the Apple Watch at the head. Besides covering the same segment they also allow music playback, which is the star feature of the Runners. That is why they are suffering so much, and the truth is that it is not easy to fix beyond a major product restructuring.

Other manufacturers are not suffering as much impact as they have many more sectors in which they compete, but TomTom has a very limited range of products known on the market (the Runner/Spark and Adventurer) and others with a merely testimonial presence on the market (TomTom Bandit and Touch).

There are three options at this point:

  • TomTom internal restructuring and focus on new differentiated products
  • Closure of the Sports Division
  • Sale of the Sports Division and other patents they may have to other manufacturers

Of the three options, the last one is the most feasible and I doubt that TomTom is considering turning around the current concept and preparing new devices, especially after having fired key figures from the organization and not replacing them with anyone.

In short, it would be a really negative point for the market to lose a competitor with the importance of TomTom, at least in the European market.

And with that... thanks for reading!

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  1. And wait.. because as Google Maps has evolved and as TomTom Navigator has, I think they have nothing to offer to the consumer. They sold their mobile app for 50 euros and it worked regularly, when they had the chance to become the standard. They had a good product, good software and good maps, but trying to protect their equipment, the price was ridiculous. At the time the best, but now it's been a while since they were missed. And for car/moto, etc... almost better a stand with a mobile

    1. What happens is that in the end your most profitable business is selling to third parties... To give you an idea, the maps that Apple uses are those provided by TomTom. And that's where it makes a lot more profit than selling applications in the app store on the spot.

  2. I had the first TomTom to run and the truth is that it was unreliable in distance, it always marked less than what it did, reaching 800 meters in half marathon, something very important to know the rhythm you have, if it fails in the basics I didn't buy any other. Now I go with Garmin, reliable and with many options for training

    1. That is their main problem. There has been no progress in the development of the product, so it is very difficult for a buyer to repeat because it is the same thing he had until now.

      In the end they are only feeding on new clients, because those who already have in their portfolio are forced to migrate to the competition when they need to renew equipment.

  3. Very good article, like everyone else on your blog. Congratulations.
    Yo creo que a muchas empresas les está faltando ese esfuerzo en avanzar en el desarrollo ( no sólo en este tipo de productos sino teléfonos, etc….) y pasan de la gama 2 a la 3 a la 4…..sólo porque hay que sacar cada año la renovación…y para los usuarios que somos más «básicos» pues no compensa ese esfuerzo en comprar de nuevo si no hay un avance claro…
    For me as a basic runner, I'll throw in my Forerunner 235 as long as I can and more as long as it doesn't break, which as you say in the article the only thing missing in my opinion to make it the perfect watch for basic users is 2/4 GB of internal memory to put mp3 music and listen while running with a bluetooth headset, but I'm not going to leave the watch aside and go back to 300-500.
    A salute.

  4. You leave me worried.

    You could say I'm a bit of a tomtomero. I use a Runner 1, which I inherited when my partner took the Runner 2. I also tried the Runner 3 fountain the time I had mine in repair.

    As we are very mountaineers, I was thinking of buying the Adventurer soon. The tracking of trails and the bathymetric altimeter are key, and by the way, the reproduction of music, and at a price (250-300 euros) that no one in the competition even comes close to.

    So this uncertainty feels like a kick to me. I don't want to buy something that hangs by a thread as far as maintenance is concerned, but I see little alternative.


    1. Personally, I wouldn't buy a TomTom device right now. The future is truly uncertain. It's not that they'll stop working, but what can be counted on for sure is that there will be no upgrades.

  5. Hello again, Eduardo,

    Let's say I throw myself into a Suunto: I think the Spartan Ultra is the only one with a barometric altimeter, but it's absolutely prohibitive.

    El Spartan Sport es el reloj que se acerca más a lo que estoy dispuesto a aflojar, pero no dispone del mentado altímetro. A cambio, según su descripción, tiene «FusedAlti – la medición de altitud exacta debido a la combinación de GPS y el altímetro GPS». Ni idea de qué es esto, ni de cómo funciona. Igual podrías comentarme algo al respecto, porque llegados a este punto me parece importante: los perfiles de altimetría que nos arrojan hoy nuestros Tomtoms nos tienen desesperados, la precisión es mala y las desviaciones a menudo desvirtúan los tracks.

    Anyway, thank you very much for the information you share and, don't forget, congratulations on the quality of your work!

    1. You also have the new Spartan Sport Baro (I am now with the test) that now has a 15% discountIt is a Spartan Ultra with less autonomy and mineral glass, but with an optical pulse sensor. I personally think it is the most balanced model in the Spartan range.

  6. vaya , tengo el tomtom runner3 y bueno es un tema interesante, tambien os digo que solo lo uso para correr y alguna vez nadar, nada de que me diga las horas de sueño y tal pues no me es comodo para dormir

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