Validating Competitive Threats [Inadvertently]

It’s not often you hear publicly from the modest and humble HP Jin of TeleNav. I spent the better half of an hour with him at Phoenix International Airport about 4 years ago [we were both waiting for a connecting flight to Orlando for CTIA], and he’s a pleasure to talk to and has a great sense of humor. Still, he doesn’t speak publicly often. When he does, it’s deliberate.

GPS World’s coverage of TeleNav’s recent survey-results outcry, which accuses PND suppliers of offering outdated offerings leading to consumer dead-ends, indicates HP has something to get off his chest with regards to the battle of the navigators. He and Sal [the other co-founder of TeleNav] blast the PND market, and criticize Tele Atlas of pursuing conflicts of interest per their recent sale to TomTom, TeleNav’s perceived archenemy.

Now, I don’t think this whole PND vs. mobile phone, carrier-distributed & billed vs direct to consumer & billed is an either-or consumer decision… Case in point, consider Dash. All they did was put a modem in a PND, and viola—a connected device just like a phone that no longer suffers from outdated map data or connectivity. The point is this navigator battle can go any direction [pun intended]. TomTom could build a phone or connect their devices, Apple could offer iPhone on-board navigation with data synched from iTunes, TeleNav could continue on their Carrier/mobile OEM path, Google or Nokia could come along and change the whole game by giving it away for free, or another small stealthy player could be reinventing the model as I draft this post. In the end, consumers and especially digital natives may have a PND, a phone, an iPod, a PC, a PMP, and so on. As long as they are given choices, they’ll choose the best option for their lifestyle.

Inadvertently validating competitive threats by bashing them secretes scents of fear for others to sniff-out and embrace as psychological marketing arsenal. It’s better to say something like "the product fails to address the needs of connected users which we have spent that last 6 years engineering to perfection, etc”.  TeleNav's negative bash-fest material is somewhat disappointing...