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Summary:

Dash Navigation, with its network-connected global positioning system (GPS) device, has achieved what so many other companies have tried and failed to do — built a service that combines disparate data streams into one place where we can use them in everyday life. And as such, it is a device that reflects the true spirit of Web 2.0.

Dash Navigation, the Mountain View, Calif., company that has developed a network-connected global positioning system (GPS) device, is finally making it available for pre-order. The Dash Express will set you back a whopping $600 dollars plus related services of between $10 and $13 a month, depending on the service play you choose. And although it is by no means the most expensive GPS system out there, it is indeed a device that reflects the true spirit of Web 2.0.

Dash, which has raised close to $42 million in VC funding from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital, is one of those startups that initially seemed to be more sizzle than substance. But a demo of their most updated device and the web service that goes along with it made me reevaluate my skepticism. Let me explain.

For nearly two years, one web company after another has offered an API (application programming interface) as a means to access the data locked up inside their vault. Zilo, Flicker, eBay, Yelp, Yahoo and Google Maps — the list goes on and on. And yet we have not seen anyone come up with a way to combine these disparate data streams together and build a service that helps our everyday life. Sure, we’ve seen some clever mashups, but most of them are locked up inside our browser. Close the lid of your computer and everything is left behind.

Dash, however, has come up with a way to take Web 2.0 to go. The device can pull information from a panoply of sources: gas station listings, restaurant listings, recommendations from Yelp, real estate information from Zillow.com, and so on. Say you’re driving and you see a house for sale — you can enter the address and get the list price from the Zillow.com database. Feel like eating sushi? Enter “sushi” and the device pulls down the nearest sushi restaurant information, including reviews from Yelp or some such service.

Your subscription also gives you access to MyDash, a special web site that allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds of your choice. If you’re a New York Yankees fan, for instance, and need to find a Yankees-friendly saloon in, say, San Francisco, you can look on one of the mapping services such as Platial and find yourself a map mashup that lists such bars. Subscribe to that RSS feed, and you will always have pinstripe heaven close by. Another feature I like is called Send2Car, which allows you to highlight an address from any Internet browser or Microsoft Outlook and send it directly to your car. Oh and it also offers real-time traffic updates and navigation.

I didn’t necessarily want to do a review of Dash, but it’s allowed me to point out something that is being forgotten in the mad scramble that is Web 2.0: The Internet is not just about the browser, but rather it is about data and how one can use it to build clever products. I think Dash, much like Amazon’s Kindle and RCA’s Small Wonder video camera, is part of a movement that is breaking Web 2.0’s browser shackles.

  1. I think it’s “Zillow.com,” not “zilo.com”?

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  2. Fixed. Sorry about that. Just one of those things that the eyes missed.

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  3. It is cool and probably would be very useful but do you really need to buy a piece of expensive hardware and pay a monthly fee to get the functionality of Dash’s product? Can’t this same functionality come via a smart phone/pda on an EVDO or 3G network? I’m curious if there are there ads or can companies buy search placement if you did type in the word ‘sushi’?

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  4. tomo

    since they are charging you for the service i bet they are not going to much around with ads. i think you are right about this functionality is going to be built into mobile phones, but there could different class of devices that will bring to us similar services.

    THis is a car device, and since I don’t much care for driving I would be happy with a mobile phone solution. A next generation blackberry or iphone could do the trick.

    Check out my other post on Atheros buying a GPS chipset maker. Your and my wishes might come true faster than you might think :-)

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  5. price point is too high. i predict a loser here.

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  6. Dash Express is loaded to fascinate us with on the go telling us;

    * Better routes to get destination considering the traffic flow.
    * Better ways to get destination by giving us specific options to shop, eat and drink.
    * Better options to explore locality of route.
    

    Features which I admire most,

    * MyDash: Allows me to create button and upload to Dash device through Internet.
    * Send2Car: Allows me to talk to car from my laptop to updates like addresses.
    
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  7. The device is pretty expensive, But what is the real deal breaker is the cost of the service. Granted that Dash did not really have too many options in its vision of a connected GPS unit.

    It could have gone the Kindle route and given access for free amortized by the cost of the device. Or they could have also used the cell phone data over bluetooth for connectivity. Either way at 600 bucks + 10 – 13 bucks a month – Expect a loser.

    Cellphone GPS does a lot of the same things as Dash except the community traffic routing, Though not as cleanly as Dash. However cellphones as GPS have a fundamental limitation of screen size and the docking/undocking being cumbersome. Thus like the mac mini as a media centre approachg expect it to be relegated to geeks.

    Looks like the folks at Dash have created a great product. Problem is that success is going to be hard earned.

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  8. Great product and great review Malik. Ok the price is a little bit high and I don’t know if common people would be ready to pay 10 or 13 USD per month. Indeed if you occasionally use your GPS device, you will not see any benefits to pay for the service but if your job need you to be often on the road maybe you will be interested. However, I am happy to see a product that can make life easiest by using all the web2.0 data availables. Today with the web2.0 or web3.0 euphoria, many entrepreneurs are creating some pretty applications or websites but that bring nothing more to the users and don’t make their life easier. And I can’t see any future of these kind of application. What do you think?

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  9. [...] For more views on the Dash Express, check out CrunchGear and GigaOm. [...]

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  10. Yuvamani – This is Mark from Dash. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of your statement “Looks like the folks at Dash have created a great product. Problem is that success is going to be hard earned.”

    Yes, it will be hard earned, and we will have to prove our worth in the marketplace. Hopefully you will have the chance to personally give a Dash unit a try to determine how we have done.

    Mark

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