Research In Motion has acquired Dash Navigation for an undisclosed amount, according to a spokeswoman for RIM. Dash, which makes makes the car GPS device Dash Express (read our review of the device here), had been struggling to compete with GPS device competitors like Garmin, and shifted its focus away from the hardware business last year towards selling its software to other device manufacturers.
Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia backed, Dash originally manufactured a network-connected GPS that pooled the location and speeds of all nearby Dash owners to give them back real-time traffic reports. The device has some notable features but couldn’t build a large user base and was forced to change its business plan and lay off 65% of its staff in November. We wrote back then that Dash’s API program was strong, so switching to licensing its software made sense. But the primary appeal of Dash’s software, which is built around being connected to other Dash owners and sharing driving data with each other, could be lost if the software is licensed by a device manufacturer.
RIM refused to comment on how Dash will be incorporated into its business but it’s safe to assume that the company will use Dash’s technology to upgrade the GPS in their devices in some capacity. This is similar to Nokia’s acquisition of digital map maker NAVTEQ in 2008 to help add map technology to their devices. Although RIM’s acquisition is on a slightly smaller scale, Dash’s technology does give RIM some important mapping and car navigation technologies, many of which can be applied more broadly to cell phones. If the connectivity feature of Dash is maintained by RIM, this could prove to be a useful tool for Blackberry users, given how many Blackberry devices are out there.