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TomTom Flames OpenStreetMap

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  • by mpoulton (689851) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:09AM (#40139835)
    FTFA: "We harness the local knowledge of our 60 million satnav customers, who can make corrections through TomTom Map Share." So... open mapping projects are worse than their closed mapping product because their closed mapping product is collaboratively edited by the users... Nice argument.
    • FTFA: "We harness the local knowledge of our 60 million satnav customers, who can make corrections through TomTom Map Share." So... open mapping projects are worse than their closed mapping product because their closed mapping product is collaboratively edited by the users... Nice argument.

      Absolutely, and surely TomTom and openstreetmaps have some method of sorting out the rubbish that comes in. i.e. multiple entries checked against each other and any ones outside the norm are thrown out.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        I don't know how TomTom is vetting their user-supplied corrections (if at all).

        In case of OSM however anyone can add anything to the map, and it's published right away. I have contributed various hiking trails to their map, and they became available on the online maps instantly (only delay is caused by their tile rendering). I have not tried to e.g. wipe a motorway or so just to see what happens, but it seems that is possible.

        Like Wikipedia, a full history is kept of all parts of the map, so any removals ca

        • by Richard Fairhurst (900015) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @03:14AM (#40140085) Homepage

          Essentially OSM works on the principle of "with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". There are cases of vandalism in OSM, but they don't last very long; the community usually picks them up rapidly and reverts them.

          We have one advantage over Wikipedia in that it's easier for us to determine what's right. On Wikipedia, if one contributor says "John Doe's contribution to scholarship was important" and another says "no it wasn't", you get an edit war. On OSM, if one mapper says "this road is called Market Street" and another says "this road is called Market Road", we just go and look at the street sign. The rule is "what's on the ground". (The one place where this breaks down is disputed territorial borders, such as Northern Cyprus and Kashmir, but there are procedures in place for that.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by marauder (30027)
          In my experience TomTom vets its Map Share corrections by just not approving them. As one f'rinstance, it took 3 years for them to correct an illegal turn on two very busy roads in Sydney, despite me and presumably umpteen others reporting it every damn time. A new bridge near my work took over a year to feature on their maps. So I guess you should say that their vetted corrections are 100% accurate.
  • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:14AM (#40139853)

    The motives are obvious, the critique is not very specific, everyone who is using OSM does realize their limitations, and anyone who is using mapping software and gets in trouble because they prioritize the mapping data over what they can see with their own eyes should not be on the road anyway.

    Too bad for Tomtom, but they stopped to be relevant quite a few years ago.

    • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:32AM (#40139937)

      They should worry more about Google maps/navigation. You get a smartphone with that on it, and suddenly a Tomtom doesn't seem like a good buy anymore. My mom has a Tomtom because she could practically get lost driving on a straight road, and it has worked well. However it has nothing on my smartphone with Google on it. Reason is that the smartphone can (and does) fetch map data in realtime. I don't have to remember to load maps for where I'm going and they'll be as up to date as Google has at the moment.

      In terms of other features like plotting a route talking you through things and so on they both work fine.

      That's their real threat. Anyone who has a newish Android smartphone already has this, and I have to presume it is available on all other platforms. It's free and it works well. You don't have to remember to bring anything with you, other than your phone which you probably already have. Heck even if you don't have the app you can download it in the field.

      Between that and cars with built in nav systems, I can't see them having a market for much longer. Stand alone GPS units are going to be the kind of things that hikers use, if you are on a roadway your car, phone, or both will already have you covered.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:39AM (#40139957)

        Reason is that the smartphone can (and does) fetch map data in realtime.

        Yes it does, which is great right up until you are in an area with really poor data.

        On any smartphone I will always have at least one offline mapping app, so that I can find things around me (or how to get out) even if data connections fail.

        You can alleviate that to some degree with caching (which Google Maps does) but it still doesn't help if you want to search for something new or run into an area the caching did not anticipate.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Nokia owns one of the biggest mapping companies around, navteq. It has navtec maps with lifetime free upgrades in some really cheap older smartphones, for example nokia 5230. That's full offline maps of entire world with free lifetime upgrades as well as walk and drive tun by turn voiced navigation. You can get that phone used for a couple of dosen EUR nowadays, and it usually comes with a car stand to boot. Then you just set it up and use it as a navigator. Way cheaper then dedicated tomtom navigator, and

        • On any smartphone I will always have at least one offline mapping app, so that I can find things around me (or how to get out) even if data connections fail.

          What do you do if it's cloudy out and you run out of electricity? Besides the gyro-compass and communication features a smartphone makes for terrible survival gear.

          I keep a laminated map next to my towel and homing pigeon, it makes great umbrella, the towel needs no explanation, and if I'd rather stay in than get out, I've got a meal.

        • by siddesu (698447)
          There are a ton of apps that do navigation and support offline maps, including OSM. I've been using one paid (Locus, Android) and one or two free ones (Androad being the best, obviously Android) with no issues at all. I admit that OSM is prety bad in poorer countries, but in the "developed" world and most of the former socialist countries, OSM is at least as good as any other offline map, and sometimes much better.
        • by Calos (2281322)

          Maps on Android doesn't fetch data just in time, it caches ahead a little ways. You can also specifically tell it to pre-cache whatever section of map you like ahead of time.

          I find it doesn't matter anyway, because the places were you find you've know data are usually the same areas that you don't need detailed instructions in - e.g., highways through rural areas. And it doesn't matter, because it will still have the instructions to get to get off on to a different highway.

          I've driven all around the east (

          • I agree, except your examples of data coverage. I have T-Mobile and the Google map have crapped out on me in the middle of New Mexico. I admit New Mexico is a tough state for online navigation. Remember you can only cache the amount of data your smartphone can hold, and of course your milage may vary.

            Also Google maps has poor navigation when compared with MapQuest and other mapping software. My biggest complaint with Google Navigation with an Android phone is that Google doesn't do adequate filtering of t

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          You can alleviate that to some degree with caching (which Google Maps does) but it still doesn't help if you want to search for something new or run into an area the caching did not anticipate.

          I have a cache of Paper Maps.
          The Paper Map App is large, hard to search, and rarely up to date.
          But it's always there

      • Re:No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:41AM (#40139963) Homepage

        Sometimes it is useful to have a local copy of a map with you, incase you are in an area with no cell coverage or a foreign country where roaming charges would make using online maps uneconomical.

        • Re:No kidding (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @03:56AM (#40140223)

          Actually this is where osmand app (based on openstreetmap) comes in. You dont have to be connected, and is very user friendly in terms of downloading & updating maps. An android phone with Google Maps Navigation and osmand app, is way better than a TomTom.

        • This is also possible with a modern phone. I have a cheap Android phone (HTC Desire - nice phone, but apparently 'obsolete' when I got it) running OSMAnd. It lets me download OSM vector maps, so I currently have England, Wales, Belgium, and northern France on it (taking about 1GB of my 16GB SD card). The offline routing is still considered experimental. It works reasonably well, but on longer journeys it can run out of memory. It was great when I moved here - I'd set the destination and leave it in my
        • I'm not trying to say that smartphone navigation will take over the world. I knew a bunch of people would respond ascribing me that position right after I posted but oh well. I'm saying that it will take over Tomtom's market.

          The Tomtom isn't a device that hikers, surveyors, etc buy. It something you buy to get GPS in your car. It is designed around the idea of car sat nav. Well guess what? When you are sticking to city streets, cell coverage is usually pretty good. Even if it drops for a second, it'll pick

  • Applies to them too? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kergan (780543) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:18AM (#40139875)

    The oddest part, to me, is that they kind of admit to the same issues in TFA:

    Our map-makers are real experts, many having over 20 years' experience in the field. And we harness the local knowledge of our 60 million satnav customers, who can make corrections through TomTom Map Share.

    Surely a disgruntled employee can be do a better job at keeping disgruntled users in check, than a community of volunteers...

  • by xmundt (415364) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:24AM (#40139899)

    Greetings and Salutations;
              Well, I have been editing and contributing to OpenStreetMap for several years now, and, I have to say that while there is a point to the criticism, in general, I would disagree with their analysis. It is a bit too self-serving for my taste. I do not own a TomTom, but, have had a couple of Garmins, and, have used a TomTom unit before. The commercial maps have been no better than the Open Source maps, and in several cases have been far less accurate. There are a number of places here in East Tennessee where the commercial maps have the GPS insisting that I am driving through the fields on the side of the road.
              One point where Open Street Map shines is that it has actual roads and trails in such places as National Parks and forests...where the commercial maps have nothing but blank green areas.

    • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:48AM (#40140639) Journal
      Thank you muchly.

      I checked out OpenStreetMap maybe 12 months ago with the full intention of correcting my local area. I had a mental image of 15km2 that I could help with.

      I was extremely disapointed. Not only was my local area perfect compared to Google and Microsoft, it also told me where the drain covers were located. It kid, but it had far more info than I could ever hope to gather myself.

      OpenStreetMap needs to advertise.
      • by richlv (778496)

        hey, don't get turned away by that - you can always participate in mapping parties, collect minor data (did your region really have all post boxes & fire hydrants ? ;) ), update things that change (new/closed roads, shops opening/closing etc).

        also, in some regions so called "armchair mapping" is actually welcome - that is, mapping areas where you might have never been on the ground, from imagery. most notably that could help in the usa, outside cities.

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:44AM (#40140809) Homepage

      One point where Open Street Map shines is that it has actual roads and trails in such places as National Parks and forests...where the commercial maps have nothing but blank green areas.

      Yep. For example, here [openstreetmap.org] is a place in the Alps in openstreetmap, and here [google.com] is the same place in google maps, and here [tomtom.com] is the same thing in routes.tomtom.com. Only openstreetmap shows the hiking trail (as well as peaks with their elevations, and mountain huts). This is a really good thing for hikers, runners and mountain bikers.

      You can also get topo maps based on OSM data from toposm.com, although this still seems pretty primitive and they only cover the US. Google's maps with contour shading are OK, but they don't let you print them through their web interface (although you can always print a screenshot), and they don't show contour lines.

      What isn't so great about OSM is that driving directions from yournavigation.org are not usable at all. Also, the search functionality is (not surprisingly) inferior to the one in google maps -- if you don't put in exactly the right form of the name, it doesn't work.

    • Another tremendous Open Street Map feature is that we get the data. When I need a map specific to my needs (treasure hunt for the kids, map for a flyer, etc.), I go to open street map, download the map as an SVG, open it in Inkscape, add/remove features, crop, edit to taste, save as PDF, mail and/or print.

      Thank you, Open Street Map!

  • by kwark (512736) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:25AM (#40139905)

    "Many drivers rely heavily on satellite navigation for precise directions, and mapping errors can be extremely dangerous, particularly in the case of one-way streets."

    I see people using these commercial quality navigation units every day and still they take stupid actions like driving into a oneway street and making last second turns (right... left, NO RIGHT swerving all over the road) while spending more time looking at their statnav than on the road. Turn by turn navigation is dangerous by itself when used blindly no matter what maps are being used, they induce a near total lack of anticipation of traffic.

  • pretty tame "fud" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coeurderoy (717228) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:29AM (#40139927)

    Basically they say that they provide more "quality control" than OSM, and that people should check their electronic map, this is not false...

    The arguments are very similar to the ones the various encyclopedias offered (and still offer if they haven't disapeared yet) against wikipedia.

    But they do recognize value in OSM, so I guess they are more into thinking how in the future leverage OSM, after all the real competition to tomtom is not OSM but google map or bing map on the mobile phones....

    They should focus on lowering the price of their hardware, who will pay at least 150€ for a satnav, when they can have something similar for 19€ on an android phone.
    (since they need the phone subscription anyway, and yes the tomtom is probably "better", but 130€ buys quite a lot of gasoline, even at current prices).

    Maybe they'll bring out a 50€ android + osm based navigator, and offer some fun "add ons"

    • by raynet (51803)

      Actually the TomTom device usually is worse than the iPhone/Android versions due to not so polished UI and lesser hardware (slower cpu, less memory etc).

    • (since they need the phone subscription anyway, and yes the tomtom is probably "better", but 130€ buys quite a lot of gasoline, even at current prices).

      Actually, I have a TomTom, but I do not have a phone subscription. And amazingly I'm getting by in life at least as well as the average phone subscriber.

  • TomTom geek employee (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:35AM (#40139943)

    I am ashamed of our marketing department

    • Good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Another one here. It's really a geek company. No coincidence that we're still using Linux after that quarrel with Microsoft. E.g. the ext3 on top of FAT trick we pulled (workaround for the Microsoft patent) is open sourced on both the PC/Mac and device side.

      That said, TomTom does have a point here, it's just Marketing that's unable to explain it (again :( ). We do have far, far more data to go on than OSM. TomTom Traffic requires that you send your position to receive the local traffic jams, but that inform

  • Good ol' TomTom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:49AM (#40139997) Homepage

    I bought a WinCE PDA with TomTom back when they first appeared.
    I later got a new version of the TT software for the same PDA.
    Later I bought a TomTom device (still a WinCE PDA, but only running TT).
    Then I bought an Android phone and... TT didn't have an app, so I got a different brand.
    TT's enemy isn't some open mapping service, it's their own failure to adapt to the changing world around them.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <(bert) (at) (slashdot.firenzee.com)> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:51AM (#40140013) Homepage

    The fact that Tomtom feels the need to bring up OSM says to me that OSM is now a credible competitive threat to them. The business model of selling maps for use on gps units is rapidly becoming obsolete, they can either try to fight it and become increasingly irrelevant, or adapt...

    Incidentally, what i dislike about tomtom is that having bought the device, i needed a code to register my map, and this code was on a tiny sticker attached to the sleeve of a cd that came in the box... When my sdcard died, i replaced it, reloaded the software and map, only for it to refuse to work unless i entered the code. I still have the physical device, but have no idea where the code is (most likely lost) so am left with a relatively expensive device that i now cannot use via official channels.
    Ofcourse, i simply found a crack online which allowed me to use the device i paid for without the tiny strip of paper containing an arbitrary code.

  • Hard Facts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orany (745200) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:52AM (#40140015)
    I have a TomTom and a month ago visited Cyprus. I did not find map for Cyprus. The only thing I have found in TomTom forum was a discussion if Cyprus is in Europe. O.T. It did not make to slashdot, but TomTom's had a nasty GPS bug after last DST switch. To get a GPS lock you had to cold start it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Which was caused by a firmware error in a Broadcom chip used in several products. Firmware was made by Broadcom, not TomTom.

  • by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:55AM (#40140031)

    The one thing that sticks in my mind about Tomtom: when they got sued by Microsoft, the open source community rallied round. But did they ever bother making the minimal effort to distribute a Linux client, perhaps to show appreciation if nothing else? Appreciation not just for the support they got against Microsoft but for giving them a free platform to build their business on? No. Too much to ask, apparently. As far as I am concerned, Tomtom can fuck themselves.

    Oh, and when I lost my Tomtom I did not replace it, I bought a Garmin.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      (TomTom employee here) Please Please let our marketing people know this. Just like TFA they're also fucking up the Linux release. The whole PC software has been rewritten from scratch to eliminate anything proprietary or platform-dependent. The biggest problem in porting it to RHEL/Itanium would probably be the dependency on a USB Ethernet class driver for Itanium hardware ;)

  • by batistuta (1794636) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:58AM (#40140041)

    I have been working with digital map data for on advanced driver assistance applications for a few years, and my experience is the following:

    Some applications want lots of data. They don’t care if it is perfect or not, such as whether there is a zebra crossing, a traffic light, a stair, a path for mountain bike but not for road bike, etc. One example of this is navigation: it doesn’t matter if the turn has an error of 10 meter, if it is 10 or 25 degrees to the right, etc.

    Other applications they are fine with less data, but this must be absolutely accurate to within a meter. Examples of this are active-safety applications, such as map-based adaptive front lighting, curve warning, etc.

    Some other applications are in the middle. They are not very sensitive, but annoying if incorrect: example of this is speed limit warning.

    The biggest map vendors collect hundreds of attributes at very high quality. This is true particularly for low-number functional classes (highways and motorways). They often meet the 5-m absolute and 1-m relative accuracy for geometry.

    It is very difficult for OSM to meet this high quality, specially because you need a differential GPS (DGPS) to collect these. That said, map vendors invest most of their effort on large important roads, while rural or off-roads have from low to very poor quality.

    Moreover, one thing is the quality at which data is collected, and another one is the map quality. Vendors tend to decimate (strip-out) geometry points on non important roads in order to reduce the size of the map.

    So to sum up: if you are on a motorway or highway, OSM probably won’t match the quality of Navteq, Teleatlas or Google. If you are on a rural area, off-road, bike trail, etc., OSM will probably kick everyone’s butt. Plus it is usually more up-to-date.

    TomTom tries to close this gap with their community content, which I find very dishonest from them. They save millions by using people’s data, but they don’t pass these savings back to the consumer.

    • It is very difficult for OSM to meet this high quality, specially because you need a differential GPS (DGPS) to collect these.

      If they have a means of averaging all the different GPS tracks they receive to produce their data, that wouldn't matter so much. You could even crowdsource this ; have a task list for people who are registered as "Open Street Mappers" in a particular region to go and recollect given data points to improve their accuracy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they have a means of averaging all the different GPS tracks they receive to produce their data, that wouldn't matter so much. You could even crowdsource this ; have a task list for people who are registered as "Open Street Mappers" in a particular region to go and recollect given data points to improve their accuracy.

      waze.com does exactly this. They put small "goodies" shaped as candy on the streets that needs more data points, and users go there to collect the candy and help improve the map.

  • by arikol (728226)

    The problem, as I see it, is that the non-tech savvy have already realised that computers are just machines and fail all the time (just like any other extremely complex piece of machinery).
    What many people fail to grasp is that a GPS is also just a computer (and thereby a machine). People seem to view it as "the magic map box that was invented at Hogwarts", and view the underlying technology as being satellites that sense where you are and feed you the right picture. Heck, they even talk about "the Google s

  • Screw you, TomTom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @03:19AM (#40140101)

    I've made the mistake of buying U.S. maps from TomTom twice. Fooled me twice, so shame on me.

    In both cases, I needed TomTom to get me to hotels in the south east, where the hotels are located on roads that were created about 3-4 years ago. Google Maps had the roads, but even the most recent update of TomTom did not.

    So I emailed TomTom and I was like, hey, your maps are really stale regarding this address. Their response? "Here's how you can correct our maps."

    Excuse me, but I'm not paying ~ $50 for the privilege of correcting your maps. If I take the time to show you where your maps are wrong, and I can point your customer support people to the correct data on Google Maps, you do the damn work of updating your fscking maps.

    I've found TomTom quite useful over the past few years, but I really can't see continuing my business relationship with them.

  • by xer.xes (4181)

    This attack was mainly targeted at Waze (surpassed Twitter (!) in the App Store), which has around 20 million users, and becoming a real threat - OSM navigation is not nearly that popular (yet?).

  • my town (Score:4, Informative)

    by mennucc1 (568756) <d3slash@mennucc1.debian.net> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:13AM (#40140517) Homepage Journal
    Many years ago a freeway bypass was opened near my home: so to access the freeway I do not need to cross the city center. When I bought a TomTom device in 2010, I noted that the bypass was not yet added , so TomTom always plans a route thru the city center: I added it manually and suggested as a correction - but no official correction was ever issued. Last summer I forked another 70€ to buy a map update, in hope that it would add this correction: but no, I wasted my money. I am deeply disappointed.
  • by niks42 (768188) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:49AM (#40140643)
    Of course, now I have RTFA I know there ARE applications out there that can give me some serious benefits for travelling .. so I am now downloading Waze to my Android phone .. oh my.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:01AM (#40140677)

    I have to actually LOOK at the road I'm driving on? I can't simply go down the flooded road 'cause my navi says it's all right?

    What's next? First they want me to pay attention to the traffic, now this! Driving sure gets more complicated every day.

  • Of course, I'm sure that TomTom licensed it properly, rather than just swiping some 'freely' available data for their own commercial use.

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