Dash: a dud? or a defining device?

3 Jan

OK, enough with the alliteration, but it is certainly intriguing to see how much buzz (and grumblings) I am hearing about the much bally-hooed networked GPS system just launched from Dash Navigation. The idea is a simple one and fairly obvious – decouple the promise of Web 2.0 from the browser and make that data available everywhere the user is in a format that is digestible, relevant and accurate. Dash’s approach is an interesting one: how would you like to get restaurant listings, suggestions and reviews from Yelp, or real estate data from Zillow.com, or mapping from Platial, all while behind the wheel or even while in another city? Dash will pull that information with the ease of your in-car navigation system–coffee shops, gas station locations, post offices, etc — while layering in more robust content (reviews, etc) that most in-car nav systems can only hope for. Add to that real time traffic, weather, etc. and you have a fairly compelling little travel companion.

We have been openly evangelical about the broad Location-Based Services space for some time [see an earlier post here], particularly around the convergence of GPS and various content offerings (both private labeled and user-generated), so perhaps we are an easy sell. That said, we suspect that the folks at Dash and their capable investors at Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers might have their work cut for them. This is a crowded space and the sands shift fortnightly around these parts. As has been well reported by GigaOm and Venture Beat (here and here, respectively) Dash is expected to be available with a $600 price tag, plus $10-13 in monthly fees depending on the services the user signs up for. This, in a space rapidly being filled by GPS-enabled phones — with new ones launching almost daily — and by hand-held GPS devices (Tom Tom, Garmin, etc) by manufacturers that know the space well and are not likely to give up their cushy franchises without a nasty fight. While we are excited by the emergence of Dash and believe it both validates this space and ratchets up innovation in this increasingly competitive and exciting area, we will be watching closely to see how consumers will react to the seemingly high price point of the device amid clear competitive offerings that surround them.


4 Responses to “Dash: a dud? or a defining device?”

  1. JonhT. March 3, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Im a long time Garmin eTrex Legend user. Was a holdout on buying a color, talking GPS for the car (“What’s wrong w/ the good old eTrex?”). But having bought one, and recently field tested on a week long trip to downtown Houston, I’m sold. I love it. The one tweek I had to make was to replace the “car” icon with a more standard arrow (I could never tell which direction the car was pointing; I run the GPS w/ North up). The icon was easily replaced w/ a download from the Garmin site.

  2. JasonT. March 4, 2009 at 7:02 am #

    The unit wouldn’t acquire satellites until the third try, and then for maybe 30 seconds. It informed me that the condo I was sitting accross the street from was a 7-11 store. Then it said “satellite signal weak” and quit working. A visit to the Garmin site showed a very relaxed attitude about whether I should even expect it to work at all, with outlandish suggestions like placing it outside my car to get it to work (and it didn’t). I live in the heart of Chicago so there’s absolutely no excuse for it not to work. I’m on the lakefront so its view of the sky was completely unobstructed. I’ll never buy anything made by Garmin again.


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