Late last week, we reported that TomTom was poised to enter the taxi-hailing app space in a big way, as it is currently trialling such a service in Amsterdam. It would, essentially, turn TomTom into a major competitor to the likes of Hailo (earlier coverage), Click A Taxi (earlier coverage) GetTaxi, myTaxi, and many more – including Uberat some point – almost overnight.
If these startups aren’t worried, they’re making a mistake.
TomTom has, after all, many a navigation system already in place inside a lot of taxis across the world, and has a brand name that’s almost synonymous with location-based hardware and software offerings.
We suspected that the publicly-listed navigation systems giant had acquired a Dutch taxi-hailing app maker TXXI, as a number of things pointed in that direction, and suggested TomTom was preparing to roll out its taxi booking service in additional markets in the near future.
After apparently pondering our request for comment over the weekend, TomTom today got back to us with a response to our questions. The company confirmed to The Next Web that it has in fact acquired TXXI parent company New Toast in 2011, albeit without disclosing the terms of the deal.
After asking for more information, a TomTom spokesperson tells us that New Toast co-founders and their team joined the Dutch navigation systems and software firm to help develop tools to “support the taxi market”.
TomTom would not confirm that it is working on mobile smartphone apps to extend its current offering – detailed below – but said it’s always open to explore new opportunities to cater to the aforementioned market.
The company also said it is currently focused only on Amsterdam, but even the TomTomTaxi.com website suggests that the taxi-hailing service will eventually be rolled out across The Netherlands at the very least.
Earlier this month, TomTom kicked off a trial in Amsterdam to let restaurant visitors, hotel guests and whatnot easily order a taxi from a ‘mini-kiosk’ provided on-site.
A service dubbed Taxi Butler running on the little machine – pictured above – would take care of the booking of the ride, while a service called Taxi Assistant – pictured below – would take care of things at the receiving end.
More specifically, Taxi Assistant would enable taxi drivers to instantly receive booking requests and itinerary information on his or her TomTom navigation system. As De Telegraaf points out, many a taxi driver uses those.