So long, Dash

Dash Navigation sealed their fate today by laying off 65% of the company and announcing that they’ll be quitting the hardware business to focus solely on software.

While the Dash Express is a reasonably good GPS device, it’s not the software that makes it special: it’s the fact that the Dash Express was the first GPS to do real-time traffic well and to have always on two-way Internet connectivity. These are things that any other GPS maker can do, and companies like Garmin and TomTom certainly have the resources and expertise to do them well; Dash just did them first.

It’s likely that Dash would have eventually failed if they had continued trying to compete in the hardware business. However, switching to a software-only business model will only delay that failure. It’s unclear which device makers Dash plans to sell their software to. Certainly not Garmin or TomTom, since their software is already far more polished and mature than Dash’s, despite missing some of Dash’s unique features. The best bet for Dash is to make deals with several smaller device manufacturers, but they’d still be fighting an uphill battle and would likely be unable to compete if Garmin or TomTom decided to challenge them by adding similar functionality to their devices.

I like my Dash Express, but unless Dash pulls something really incredible out of their hat with the next software update (supposedly coming soon), they’re most likely going to fade into obscurity.