Mobile & wireless distributor Brightpoint has signed GPS vendor Navman, a company with a GPS offering the distributor believes has broader appeal to a wider range of businesses than recent departure TravRoute.
As reported in CRN, US GPS vendor TravRoute recently ditched Brightpoint, instead partnering networking vendor Belkin in a broad-based Ingram Micro deal. TravRoute told CRN last week that the Brightpoint arrangement hadn't 'worked out'.
Felix Wong, GM at Brightpoint Australia, agreed the original deal hadn't worked out. However, he also said TravRoute seemed to have lost interest in working with Brightpoint soon after Navman was signed in May.
'After we signed up Navman, TravRoute wasn't as keen to continue working with us. I think they saw Navman as a bit of a threat,' Wong said.
Wong said that Navman was already producing and selling GPS for standalone systems suitable as onboard units in cars or other vehicles, for Bluetooth-enabled PDAs, for notebook computers and for jackets that slip over ordinary iPAQs.
Some Navman products had GPS as the primary function, and some had PDA functionality as the central capability, he said.
Although TravRoute planned to bring out more products, its CoPilot was currently more of a niche product, he said.
'We had struck up a relationship with Navman in other parts of the globe, and I went to look at it and from our perspective, we want to work with a GPS vendor that had a whole range,' Wong said.
Brightpoint is a global distributor, with offices in Europe, the US, the Philippines and New Zealand as well as Australia. Navman is a New Zealand company owned by US-based Brunswick Corporation.
Wong said he believed that the potential for GPS was largely untapped in the channel. Initially, GPS products were more of a value-add. However, as time went on they had potential to evolve into forms that would earn revenue as volume products, he said.
'There's potential in the IT channel, in retail and in the mobile phone channel. Really, today GPS is still fairly niche, I guess. But I think it's going to be more important in future,' he said.
At a recent expo, Wong said he saw mobile phones using Bluetooth-enabled GPS and connections back to databases that had different information about wherever the user happened to be. GPS on the smartphone in future could be a winner, he said.
Databases could be linked up which gave information about the weather, local restaurants and services or whether roads had been closed due to an accident, for example.
Such functionality could prove useful for a wide range of industries and professionals, including taxi drivers, rental vehicle companies, travelling salespeople, overseas executives, delivery people, the military and government, he pointed out.
'So what has been happening, you could call it 'passive GPS',' Wong said. 'But [in future] it could provide links back to a database server ... That's not really that hard to do.'
So far, response from retail and resellers had been 'fantastic', he said.
'It's a great product. Very simple to use, plug and play. I think people are surprised by how simple it is to use,' Wong said.