Why Nokia’s NAVTEQ Bought Hit Traffic App Trapster


Pete Tenereillo, the man behind the hit mobile traffic app Trapster is about to have a very holly-jolly Christmas. NAVTEQ — a Chicago-based mapping company that’s a division of Nokia (s NOK) — is rumored to have acquired Tenereillo’s company, according to AutoBlog. The auto-industry blog said there were about five companies in the running, and there was a bidding war for the company. The terms of the deal are not available. We’re waiting to hear back from Nokia and Trapster.

Trapster is a multi-platform application, which allows folks to report and get information about speed traps and road hazards. On a map, Trapster shows user-reported speed traps, red-light cameras, and speed cameras (the ones that actually issue tickets) that are close to you. It has been downloaded nearly 9 million times and has been one of the top location-based apps for a while. It is certainly a GigaOM favorite and a good example of crowdsourcing at work.

The crowd-sourced data is precisely why NAVTEQ bought the upstart company. As mapping data become commoditized, companies like NAVTEQ have to offer additional experiences on top of the raw mapping data. Practical information such as traffic conditions and speed traps are only some of the location-built experiences.

In a conversation, Nokia EVP Tero Ojanpera earlier this year said, ““We want maps to be part of everyday life, and as a result, we are working on building a richer experience on top of the map…I think it is going to become obvious that companies with mapping assets are at an advantage.” The company has been slowly building upon the idea of map-based experiences.

The acquisition of Trapster makes perfect sense and is a good move, as Trapster can only help enhance the value of NAVTEQ’s mapping information. When I first communicated with Tenereillo back in 2008, he told me his plan was to make the app available on all platforms, and he bootstrapped his company. It currently works on most major smartphone platforms and also with popular devices such as Garmin and Tom Tom.

Tenereillo has been working on the company he founded since 2003, but it wasn’t until the arrival of iPhones (s aapl) and the app store that Trapster found the momentum it needed to become a big smash.  It’s now the number two most downloaded free navigation app in the iTunes app store.

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Funny thing is that Ovi Maps already collects navigation and routing data if you opt in. Plus the latest versions also have a reporting tool built in that you can use to report incorrect map information.

So what is so great about Trapster that Nokia isn’t already doing?


Will likely be free within OVI maps and paid on certain competing platforms/certain markets. IMHO.

Om Malik

Nope, I don’t think so. It is going to be business as usual. The play here is data, more than a couple of dollars per download.


The real interesting thing will be to see if Nokia removes the other platform versions of Trapster in order to integrate it into Ovi Maps.

At first it would seem like a no-brainer to do so, but it would no doubt eliminate the vast majority of contributors to the very crowdsourced data that the company was purchased for.

I wonder if Navteq looked at Waze before deciding to buy Trapster?

Om Malik

I don’t think it makes sense for them to remove it from other platforms. I think the power is in the collaborative data and for that trapster has to be on numerous devices and not just Symbian, which are non existent in the US.

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