Sometimes you just need to stand back and applaud a strategy that works so well. Many people thought that navigation device provider Garmin would be in trouble earlier this year after its main rival TomTom agreed to buy mapping service Tele Atlas and Nokia agreed to buy TeleAtlas' only real rival Navteq. Potentially, that could have left Garmin without a mapping partner, though it seem difficult to believe
that Nokia would cut off Garmin. However, Garmin tried to outbid TomTom
for Tele Atlas while also buying up 5% of Tele Atlas' shares on the open market, leading TomTom to significantly increase its own bid, from the original $2.5 billion offer all the way up to $4.2 billion. People were waiting to see if Garmin would go even higher, but instead, it pulled a nice switcheroo. First, it worked out a settlement
with TomTom on various patent lawsuits the two were fighting, and then went in for the kill. Garmin signed a long term deal with Navteq
, guaranteeing access to its maps for the next 10 years (6 years, with a 4 year option afterwards) and then dropping its bid for Tele Atlas. In other words, Garmin doesn't have to worry about being shut out from mapping services for 10 years (at which point other options may be available), it doesn't have to pay $3.3 billion to buy Tele Atlas, it forced its main competitor TomTom to spend $1.7 billion more
than it wanted to. And, oh yeah, it'll make back
a bunch of money when TomTom takes over Tele Atlas, because that 5% stake that Garmin had acquired will get sold at a nice premium in the acquisition. Well played, Garmin. Well played, indeed.