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TomTom ditches map updates for some sat-navs

A number of customers with TomTom sat-navs have been told th..

A number of customers with TomTom sat-navs have been told that their devices will no longer receive map updates.

"Your maps will become out-of-date and as such navigation will be less accurate," the firm told customers.

"It has become clear that some of our older generation navigation devices do not have sufficient resources to run the newest maps and software."

Some devices that were on sale in 2017 will stop being updated and the BBC has asked TomTom for comment.

The firm has published a list of affected models online.

TomTom has said active subscriptions to map updates will continue until subscriptions run out, but customers will not be able to renew maps or receive new software updates.

'Lifetime updates'

In an email to customers, the firm added: "We will continue to provide quick GPS fix updates so your device will continue to function as it does now."

The BBC has spoken to one user who was only given her sat-nav at Christmas, though the model was first released in 2011.

Paula Hatcher's partner bought her the Start 20 device because her previous sat-nav – the same model – had not come with lifetime maps.

"I haven't even had the opportunity to update it even once, since the email I received this morning [advised] the withdrawal of lifetime maps," she said.

Many of the affected sat-navs are still available online at a number of retailers.

Some product descriptions continue to state that maps on the devices will update multiple times a year "for the lifetime of your device".

On its website, TomTom explains that "lifetime" means the "useful life" of a device:

"i.e. the period of time TomTom supports your device with updates, services, content or accessories

"A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more."

Another customer who bought a TomTom sat-nav in 2013 said he won't be buying another product from the company.

"I will use my current smartphone with updated maps," said Chris Syntichakis.

TomTom's sales of devices direct to customers have recently been in "severe decline", according to analyst Chris Jones at Canalys.

"Clearly they've identified a business market for future growth – that includes navigation and traffic services integrated into cars," he explained.

He said the market for personal sat-navs had been eroded by the rise of smartphone apps that offer similar services and frequent updates.

"Within months the [sat-navs] will quickly become out-of-date when those updates stop appearing," he added.

"It's not just new roads, it's [information about] features on roads – road signs, speed limits, rights of way and crossings."

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