“In response to the article published in GPS Business News entitled “Mio closing business in the US” on April 3, 2009, Mio announced that the company will continue the sales in the North American market. Mio will offer products in selected channels and launch new products in May. Mio emphasize that the company will also continue to deliver sleek, easy-to-use portable navigation devices to the market, and also accelerate the development of a variety of innovative GPS-based lifestyle products that extend the user experience well beyond traditional PNDs.”
Since the release of this statement GPS Business News has exchanged emails back and forth with a Mio spokesperson in Taiwan in order to better understand the long term goal of the brand on the US market.
The first fact is that Mio is not denying to have laid off a significant part of its US staff; however it has “not been as severe as you’ve reported”, explained the spokesperson in an email without willing to get into more details. She added that: “the back-end tasks are transferred from front-line to headquarter, keeping the operation going smoothly forward.”
The second fact claimed by the same spokesperson is that “the current Moov line is [still] being sold through a number of retail and e-tail partners in addition to Radio Shack in the United States including Fry’s Electronics, Sears, Amazon.com, K-Mart, Pep Boys, Bestbuy.com and J&R Electronics.”
Nevertheless, it appears that the number of Mio products referenced by these retailers and e-tailers is rather small. Even the online shops are only carrying one or two Mio models against large ranges of Garmin, TomTom, Magellan or NAVIGON devices. In addition, the higher end Mio Moov 500 seems to have no distribution at all.
Therefore, if in one hand our headline “Mio closing its business in the US” was not exact; in the other hand, with a handful of people running its local office, it is hard to imagine how the Mio brand could stay alive very long on a cutthroat US PND market.
Furthermore, it is difficult to understand why MiTAC is both investing in the PND market in acquiring the Magellan consumer division and disvesting from its long time local player Mio. If not too late, it is probably the right time for MiTAC executives to clear the confusion about their North American business and brand strategies between Mio and the recently acquired Magellan.