Road Group acquired majority stake in Geotate



Ad Bastiaansen, co-founder and CEO of Road Group
Ad Bastiaansen, co-founder and CEO of Road Group
ROAD Group Holding AG has announced yesterday that it has purchased a controlling interest in Geotate, a spin-off from NXP Software. The new company will be added to the growing portfolio of independently operating companies in the ROAD Group. Geotate B.V. will be headquartered in the Netherlands with major R&D facilities in the U.K. and led by former NXP executive Hans Streng. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Geotate has developed a unique and patented software/webservice technology which encompasses capturing snapshots of satellite signals and processing this data sometime later to determine the location where the snapshots were captured. Geotate’s store and process GPS technology requires low power and no start-up time, enabling features like automated geotagging of images and videos in digital cameras. (read more here).

“Within ROAD Group’s strategy, Geotate is a very important piece of the puzzle as it brings geotagging capability to location based solutions,” says Ad Bastiaansen, co-founder and CEO of Road Group. “This will help ROAD Group to drive the development of applications that add location data to any conceivable online source of information.” Roel Pieper co-founder and Chairman of the ROAD group added: “The hardware needed for web based GPS solutions can be produced at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional GPS, shifting the focus from hardware to connectivity. There is an enormous opportunity for community and location based services. We’re stepping into the future of the web.”
Geotate is definitely bringing to the table an interesting piece of technology. The company is initially focusing on the camera market, but there are many others possible implementations for applications that can support the processing of the location later on a server rather than immediately on the device.

Navjacket from MyGuide and O'Neill
Navjacket from MyGuide and O'Neill
Navjacket from MyGuide and O'Neill
Navjacket from MyGuide and O'Neill
Many investments, few visibility on the global strategy
The ROAD Group is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, and was founded in August 2007 by industry veterans Roel Pieper (formerly at Philips where he oversaw Navteq) and Ad Bastiaansen (previously at Tele Atlas) - watch here our last September interview with Ad Bastiaansen. This is the fifth investments made by the Road Group after PND manufacturer MyGuide, German navigation software developer One Step Ahead, Korea-based navigation software BlueBird, and UK-based weather services company Weather Data.

With these investments the Road Group expects to develop lifestyle related services and products that use location technologies. One of the first products developed by the Road Group is the NavJacket, conceived in collaboration between MyGuide and sport brand O’Neill which will be available as part of the O’Neill fall/Winter 2008/09 collection. This Gore-Tex ski jacket integrates a Bluetooth GPS, speakers, a led panel and dedicated buttons on the sleeve to navigate on the slopes, find friends, send alerts, etc. via a connection to a mobile phone. This is obviously a niche market, but really innovative.

However, MyGuide is still developing a range of PNDs with new products launched these days at CEBIT. But none of them does bring real innovation to the market. Therefore it is not very clear how the company expects to succeed on a market where several players have given up in the last months (ViaMichelin, Cobra) and others (Becker) are facing difficulties.

The Road Group might have deep pockets but we believe TomTom and Garmin - not to mention Mio and Magellan - are deeper. In the medium term willing to compete on the PND market might divert its investments from new and more lucrative segments where it could establish a leadership position. But let be fair, the Road Group was just established seven months ago, we can imagine there is more to come.

Wednesday, March 5th 2008


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