In the first half of 2007 Orange Group launched a request for proposal to find a unique partner providing in-car, and pedestrian multimodal navigation, search and communication (read here our interview with Alexandre Nepveu, Orange France, in June 2007). Telmap was finally chosen at the end of the third quarter of 2007, according to industry sources.
Orange was already working with another provider, Webraska, for off-board navigation in France and in the United Kingdom. However, due to the strong competition of low cost PNDs and the high cost of such off-board solution (€10 per month excluding data cost – data costs were only recently included in the price) this solution has not been a success so far.
The first outcome of this new partnership with Telmap is the off-board solution “Map and Go” that has been released as a beta version in France and is free until April 15. This solution is based on the latest version of Telmap Navigator which offers interesting capabilities such as a free “search box” (type “sushi” to find the nearest Japanese restaurant) and "Location messaging", a feature using text messages to send and receive the name, attributes and location of a place.
Telmap also offers a web-based mapping, planning and personalization tool, the "Telmap Planner", allows users to perform PC-based mapping and search, route planning, synchronization with the Navigator address book, and additional personalization for content and preferences. However it is not yet clear if and when Orange will integrate these features.
Today Orange is still offering its Webraska-based navigation solution. It does not seem Orange is willing to have several providers for this kind of solution, but at this stage – at least until April 15 - there is no exit plan announced for Webraska.
This new contract with Orange is definitely a good news for Telmap which is already working with three subsidiaries of Vodafone and some other smaller wireless operators. 2008 will also see acceleration in the number of GPS-enabled cell phones available on the market in Europe, which will fuel the demand for Telmap’s services.
Update and clarification
Orange France contacted us today to clarify a few points about this article.
While the company is not willing to release exact figures it indicates its current number of users of Orange Navigation (based on the Webraska solution) has now tens of thousands monthly subscribers. Orange France has currently 23.5 million mobile customers.
As a matter of fact, Alexandre Nepveu is not in charge of the Map and Go project which is falling under the Orange Group and lead by Raphael Goumot, LBS group marketing manager at Orange Group.