AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - TomTom, which provides fleet management systems to trucking firms, expects smaller rivals to go out of business in the fragmented sector in the next three to five years, an executive said on Friday.
TomTom, the Dutch company better-known for personal navigation devices (PND) used by car and truck drivers, has been forced to move into new but related businesses because of competition from the likes of Google, which offers similar navigation products for free.
TomTom's fleet management system enables customers such as compressor and machinery maker Atlas Copco and Dutch telecoms company KPN to track fleets of trucks or other vehicles, and to monitor their fuel consumption, speed, and driving patterns.
The TomTom unit only accounted for about 4 percent of group sales last year, but it ranks second in Europe with a 10 percent market share after Masternaut, which is headquartered in England and which merged with French firm Cybit earlier this year.
"The fleet management sector is extremely fragmented, we have different competitors in every country and we intend to take a leading role in consolidating this market over the coming years," said Thomas Schmidt, TomTom's business solutions managing director.
"One can benefit from takeovers only if you get the synergies and since there are so many players, literally hundreds sometimes in one region, it would take too long, years sometimes, to consolidate the technology platforms, which is why we prefer to grow organically," Schmidt said.
Johan Fagerberg, a telecoms researcher from the Berg Insight Institute in Sweden, agreed that acquisitions would not make sense for TomTom in this market.
"There are too many local companies for these small players to survive in this market," said Fagerberg adding, "I don't think TomTom would benefit from acquisitions because the platforms are very different and migrating clients to new platforms can be quite complex."
TomTom has the fastest growing fleet management business in Europe, Fagerberg said, and in a few years it has grown from a very low level to become the number two player in Europe.
Berg Insight said in a report on the industry last year that the European fleet management market has entered a growth period that will last for several years.
Qualcomm is the largest player globally and in the Americas. Navigation firm Trimble and FleetMatics are tied for second place in the Americas, according to Berg Insight.
TomTom is in the process of trying to expand its content and services business, its in-dash or built-in navigation devices as well as its fleet management division, to offset falling sales at its flagship PND unit.
TomTom competes in the PND market with Garmin, which is stronger in the North American market, and in the commercial digital map market with Google and Navteq, which is owned by Nokia Corp.
Last month TomTom cut its full-year revenue target citing a rapidly contracting PND market and falling sales of its flagship product as more consumers opt for free or cheap navigation software on their smartphones.
Reporting by Roberta B. Cowan; Editing by Sara Webb