Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, Dash Navigation Inc. said that it will integrate Yahoo Local features into its dedicated, in-car GPS system. The announcement basically recycles statements made by Dash execs at DEMOfall in September, but hey, I missed it then too.
Dash’s Express unit is the size of a small paper back book and plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter. When the service launches –a scheduled January launch has been pushed back to “spring” — it will have a monthly premium, probably in the $7.95-$12.95 range. The service is backed by high profile VC players, including Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia and Skymoon Ventures.
While other traffic systems are proliferating, Dash’s differentiator is going to be the integration of the Yahoo local info, which will help users select local services and find them on-the-go (i.e. Chinese Restaurants). Another differentiator is that the service provides real time traffic reporting that complements highway-based GPS reporting (often provided by local authorities) with anonymous reports from other Dash-equipped cars to figure out how fast traffic is really going.
The Dash device, which will be sold in consumer-electronics stores, will reach the Web using a cellular connection or a Wi-Fi network if it senses one is available. It also uses Tele-Atlas for mapping and points of interest.
To be sure, Dash won’t have the field to itself. Largely ad-supported Traffic.com, for instance, provides traffic reports for most of the Top 100 markets via XM radio and Sirius Radio. It complements its GPS reporting with eyewitness accounts from TV and radio news helicopters, and cell phone call-ins. For Dash to compete, it will need to ensure that there are enough Dash-equipped cars. And of course, plenty of traffic.