Is the TomTom Car Kit Too Expensive?
Now that we know the cost of the TomTom Car Kit is $119 there has been a lot of chatter about the price, wondering if it is too expensive. Of course, we have some thoughts about this. So let’s break it down based on what you get and comparing it to similarly equipped PND devices.
For simplicity, we will just round all of the prices up to the nearest dollar. We will also start just by comparing MSRP prices.
The app is $100 and the mount is $120, bringing the total cost of the package to $220. For this price, you get GPS navigation software, a (supposedly) nice speaker, microphone, Bluetooth, a solid GPS chipset, charge cable, and mount. You are bringing your own 3.5″ screen.
The most similarly equipped GPS device I could find (3.5″ screen, relatively new product, Bluetooth, cable, mount, etc) is the Garmin Nuvi 265T. The retail price of the 265T…. $220, exactly like the TomTom setup. “Street” prices are a bit better, running around $175 – $195 on average. If the TomTom Car Kit were to get wide distribution to retailers, then perhaps the price would come out to $100 for the Car Kit and $100 for the app, bringing the total price to $200– not too far off from current street prices for the 265T. One difference of course is that you are purchasing a screen with the 265T and with the iPhone package you’ve already purchased that part.
Now let’s look at where the TomTom iPhone package fits into TomTom’s lineup. This gets a bit trickier as it doesn’t slide into their lineup perfectly. The 630 is the first device that gets Bluetooth which has a retail price of $300. The next “lower” product is the XL-340s at $250. However with these two devices you get a widescreen. On average a widescreen adds about $60 to the price of a GPS over an otherwise identically equipped GPS. So if we try to estimate the 630 and XL-340s without a widescreen, we’d get prices of $240 (with Bluetooth) and $190 (without Bluetooth). So again, the total package price of the TomTom app plus Car Kit fits nicely between those figures, but again… you are not getting a screen since you’ve already purchased one.
We mentioned that in these feature comparisons you are paying for a screen with the PND devices but with the iPhone app you are bringing that along yourself. Another big difference is that the GPS devices we used to compare have Text To Speech (TTS) and are generally Traffic Capable. Currently the TomTom App does not have either of those features. I believe TomTom has pegged TTS as a priority for their iPhone app. Specifically TomTom has said this:
TomTom will launch several updates by the end of 2009 that will include improvements on the general performance of the app, as well as additional features and technologies.
All of the updates that TomTom will launch in 2009 will be free to customers that have bought the TomTom app before the update release!
I believe TTS is a top priority, if not the number 1 priority. And fine examination of the app reveals that files necessary to make traffic work on other TomTom devices are present in the TomTom app, making traffic likely to appear as well.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that for many iPhone owners the combined price of $220 for the app plus Car Kit will cause sticker shock. iPhone owners are used to a plethora of free and $0.99 apps and this package is not in that league. On the other hand when you compare the package feature for feature against other TomTom devices or competitive devices with similar features, the price doesn’t seems to slide in very nicely.
Having extensively used many of the iPhone navigation apps over the past few months, the largest issues are the battery drain, mount issues, and most of all the weak iPhone speaker and sometimes weak GPS reception. The Car Kit (should) solve all of those and if so will make it a very worthy competitor to the traditional PND. Is it worth the price? — That is up to you but this analysis shows the price isn’t as out of line as the initial sticker shock might have you think.