Growth Matters: TeleNav gets you where you want to go

With all the gloom in the global economy, I got to wondering whether there is anything else going on in the world of business. I'm looking for growth because I think that's what will ultimately bring the economy out of the doldrums. Not surprisingly, that growth is coming from technology companies. In Growth Matters, I look at consumer technology companies that point the way to growth trends -- and in the process introduce services and products you may want to explore.

If you want a smart driving assistant, you could do a lot worse than TeleNav. I interviewed Mary Beth Lowell, TeleNav's Communications Manager, who described the service's features.

As she said, TeleNav lets users:

  • Key in their destination address.
  • Go online and preplan their trips.
  • Search among 10 million businesses online, directly from the phone.
  • Find, for example, a Chinese restaurant among the business listing that is close to the destination.
  • Search for the name of a restaurant.
  • Choose the closest restaurant and examine restaurant reviews.
  • Click on the selected restaurant and receive turn-by-turn directions on the screen or via an automated voice (which uses a woman's recorded voice instead of robotic computer-sounding voice).
  • Receive traffic alerts every five minutes to let you know of congestion, with the option to obtain alternative routes with one key press.
  • And check for nearby gasoline prices.

TeleNav goes after a rapidly growing market. I interviewed Gartner (IT) analyst Thio Koslowski, who said, "Location-based services are the most rapidly growing part of the industry. Telenav is well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity because it offers a service that is device-independent. It works on cell phones and Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs)."

Although TeleNav would not discuss its revenues, it appears that consumers are paying for its service. According to Lowell, "Consumers spend $10 per month for unlimited use. In contrast, AT&T (T) charges consumers $3.99 for ten routes. Telenav has partnered with every U.S. carrier except Verizon Communications (VZ), and in some cases the carriers collect monthly user fees for us, and in other cases we receive those fees directly from customers."

Running on 500 devices, TeleNav is all over the place. And it looks like it can take you where you want to go.

Peter Cohan is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book is You Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing. He has no financial interest in the securities mentioned.

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