August 31, 2011 / 3:50 PM / in 6 years

INTERVIEW-UPDATE 1-TomTom exec upbeat on Christmas season

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By Tarmo Virki

BERLIN, Aug 31 (Reuters) - TomTom (TOM2.AS), the Dutch navigation equipment and digital map-maker, expects to weather economic challenges with new products to be unveiled for the Christmas holiday season.

“I think we are able to have a proposition that is fun enough to give us a good Christmas. We have everything lined up,” Corinne Vigreux, head of company’s main Consumer unit, told Reuters in an interview.

Vigreux said economic worries should have a somewhat smaller impact on already weak sales of personal navigation devices than on those of some other electronic devices.

“In the consumer electronics, everybody is having issues, and there are not many categories that are doing well. Because we are not a gadget, we should be a little bit more resilient, people will buy us when they need,” she said.

Last month TomTom posted a second-quarter net loss of 489 million euros after booking a big writedown on digital map maker Tele Atlas, which it bought in 2008,to reflect the dismal market outlook for its personal navigation devices.

“The PND market is going down, but it will not disappear,” she said.

“We’re not the company which is just going to wait and wait until this thing dwindles to nothing. PND is here to stay. I really believe that. It will stabilise at a certain level. I don’t know where.”

    In July TomTom forecast the decline in the global PND market this year to be at the top end of its forecast range of 15-20 percent as economic worries hurt demand and consumers turn to free or cheap navigation on cellphones.

    To offset the slump in PND sales and reduce its reliance on a single product, TomTom has increased its offerings to include an Apple (AAPL.O) iPhone app. It has also expanded its content and service offerings to include live traffic and mapping data, and tried to expand fleet management services.

    Vigreux said the company was also due to launch a version for Google’s (GOOG.O) Android platform. TomTom competes in the PND market with Garmin Ltd (GRMN.O) and in the digital map market with Google and Nokia Oyj NOK1V.HE.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Will Waterman)

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