Just like the MP3 players a few years ago, everyone wanted into the GPS market - which can only lead to one thing...
ViaMichelin is the sector's first major casualty after news the Michelin subsidiary is pulling out. According to French paper La Tribune, the French company became frustrated after only capturing 14 per cent of its domestic market and far less elsewhere.
Aside from the loss of some very decent devices (such as the X980T, above), reportedly 60 of the division's 170 employees with be made redundant. On the positive side, all customer warranties will be honoured.
Ultimately, it looks like ViaMichelin has paid the price for not finding a true differentiator. Yes, the integration of its parent's Michelin Guide was attractive but in a sector where every device has a 3.5in / 4.3in touchscreen, Bluetooth, TMC, multimedia playback, etc there is little motivation to step away from the big names of Garmin, Navman and TomTom. With GPS technology also increasingly being integrated into mobile phones it could additionally be argued Michelin foresees the market for dedicated devices only getting smaller and more fierce.
We're still awaiting formal word from ViaMichelin on this, but expect a press statement sometime this week... Nice try, guys.
La Tribune (subscription required)