Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

Psst – Hey Buddy, Got a TomTom 920 or 920T?

November 23rd, 2007 by MDob

It’s Christmas and I thought it was time to give myself a present. Well, you might as well go out and get something you want rather than consume another fruit basket from Harry and David’s, don’t you think? Okay, Okay, I’ll be honest. I really wanted to get a TomTom PND so I could play around with MapShare as research for the series I am writing on User Generated Content and map updating.

Yes, I tried the cheap, no-account route to exploring MapShare using TomTom units in the GPS display at Best Buy and Circuit City, but the sales teams soon began to wonder why I was hanging around the PND display for such long periods of time. In addition, there is a lot of functionality in MapShare that really depends of having a GPS signal – which seemed not to penetrate my local shopping emporiums – so I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a PND to do my research. Oh, was I naïve.

I took a look at TomTom’s product offering and saw that they had announced the availability (for Fall 2007) of a new top-of-the line PND that was voice activated- the TomTom 920 and its upgrade the 920T, which is packaged with RDS-TMC. To be honest, I did not want to mess with an extra antenna and decided that the 920 would suit my research needs just fine.

I realize that there are several other TomTom models that have MapShare, but the 920 has a list of interesting features and is loaded with maps of North America and Europe. I was, as they put it politely, pre-sold. Now, I just had to find a place that could sell me a 920.

At the time I started looking, the 920 was priced at $599 and the 920T at $699. To me that’s a high end PND and I did not suspect that there would be a run on them at the price. Guess again honorable blog researcher!

Anyway, I opened my browser, typed in Amazon and…..and found out that while I could order a 920, it would not be in stock before December 24th. I knew you guys would not wait that long for my next installment of UGC so I passed and headed for the local stores. I mean, how hard could it be to find an overly expensive PND with maps of Europe that would have no meaning to most Americans? (Well, I mean with all the stories of Americans not having maps (thanks Miss South Carolina) and not being able to find countries on the ones they have, I suspected that the last place people would look for maps of Europe was in a PND they bought in the US. And anyway, MIO was bringing out a sub-$100 PND on “Black Friday” – so who besides me, ardent navigation researcher, would be spending $600 or $700 for something similar?

Well, at the start of the search no store in my area (Orange County, California) had a 920. I expanded the search to San Diego County. No luck. Then, I expanded it to Los Angeles County. Still no luck.

Then, about a week ago, the 920T started showing up in the display racks at local stores. So, the 920T actually existed, but where was the 920? When I asked I was told that the stores had no interest in the lower price model.

It took me several days to decide that I would throw caution to the winds and buy a 920T. When I returned to Best Buy to do the deed, they did not have any 920Ts. I went back online and found that nobody had 920Ts. You could order them, but when you got into the process, you found out that they were “out of stock”. Hmmm. What to do?

And then, before I could buy one, TomTom dropped the price on the 920T by $100. Now, even though I could not find one, it was a bargain. I would have to look harder. I dialed in Amazon and the price had dropped from $699 to $529. (Only in America, I thought, would you drop the price of a product in the face of pent-up market demand and limited supply. Everybody must think they are Steve Jobs. Perhaps, Borat is running TomTom! His strategy -announce it, market it, increase demand, then unexpectedly reduce price and stop manufacturing. It’s a well known model in his homeland.)

I decided to “FAGHETABOUDIT.” Fate, however, was not through with me. Yesterday I opened the newspaper and found that Office Depot (not known as an electronics superstore) was going to be selling TomTom 920s the next day (yes, the one that I originally wanted) for a mere $449 (a drop from $599). Of course, the units were a “green tag special” that would go on sale at 6AM.

Ok, so I did not make 6AM,but when I arrived at 6:30AM, still in a trytophan coma from Thanksgiving dinner, they claimed to be sold out. As far as I could tell, based on a shelf space analysis, they never had one to sell. However, at Best Buy they indicated that they indicated that the might be getting 6 next …..Wait, I’m not going to tell you, after all you might get there before me!

At this point, I am almost sure that the 920 and 920T do not exist. Or if they do, that no human will be able to buy one before Christmas.

Well, I’ve gotten it out of my system and given up my pursuit of the TomTom 920, 920T or anything related. As they say in Laguna Hills, “I don’t need no stinking PND”. Of course, most of the people saying that live at Leisure World and are referring to the PND of several decades ago – you know, when PND was used to describe the agony of Post Nasal Drip.

Heck, I can write the next columns on UGC and map updating without spending $600 – but I sure could use a couple of good business deductions before the year ends.

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Posted in Personal Navigation, Technology, TomTom, User Generated Content

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