Friday 28 March 2008

TomTom, Nokia, face competition concerns

Via Matthew Newman and Stephanie Bodoni (Bloomberg) we learn that the European Commission has extended till 21 May the deadline for concluding its antitrust review of TomTom NV's 2.9 billion euro (US$4.6 billion) bid for digital-mapping company Tele Atlas NV. Tom-Tom, the world's largest maker of car navigation equipment, is buying Tele Atlas so that it can deliver real-time updates on routes to 15 million-plus navigation devices. Meanwhile, the commission is due to rule today on Nokia's US$8.1 billion bid for Tele Atlas's larger rival Navteq Corp.

The European Commission is anxious that the reduction in the number of competing businesses, and the control exercised by device makers over access to information that these devices deliver, will force up consumer prices. A business model that is more competition-friendly would be for TomTom and Nokia throw open their newly-acquired digital mapping resources for open licensing on FRAND terms, thus avoiding some of the sternest competition issues and incidentally generating more revenue from the copyright in the digi-maps.

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