Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wrong choice, ANWB; be a publisher

(c) ANWB

The Dutch AA, ANWB, stops its own line of navigators Engin. In a short press release the automobile association says that it can not compete with companies like Tom Tom and Route 66. The present owners of an Engin and subscribers to the extensive version EnginYOY will be offered a solution. My speculation is a Tom Tom or a Route 66 unit.

The navigator adventure has been a short term one. And having had an intensive ad campaign in the spring, the ANWB must have concluded that it was no extra to have a custom made navigator from the automobile association, while you could buy standard one anywhere. I am not sure that the price was even competitive. Besides I had the impression that all the downloading was not so user friendly.

One thing that the ANWB did understood is that you could add tourist information to the navigator. As such it had started EnginYOY, a kind of electronic magazine with tourist information about Rotterdam, for example, with electronic vouchers. So let’s go to Rotterdam and have dinner in a particular restaurant and pay less with the electronic voucher. That was not a bad idea. In fact the jury of the 2005 did recognise this concept, executed by Bookmark, and nominated EnginYOY in the mobile category.

What was the basic mistake of the ANWB? The automobile association has publishing activities next to its car services. As a publisher you should never go into hardware, if you cannot control the market. Sure ANWB did not only choose for a Personal Digital Assistant, but also a smart phone. But they should have known that they were never going to drive this hardware market.

IMHO the ANWB publishing arm should have concentrated on the loads of content they have collected over the years and have made digital. They have been long enough in EU funded projects to digitise tourist and cultural information. They should have taken the role of a content provider rather than a content provider and hardware distributor. As a content provider the ANWB could make that content available through navigator producers like Tom Tom and Route 66 or directly through their own publications. Now they have lost time in the development of that content and will find competitors on its way.

Pity, such a waste of resources and that at a time that ANWB is loosing members and money.

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