By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mapping software company TomTom has made its vast mapping data available to apps developers, providing an alternative to companies that now use maps from Google Inc and Apple Inc.
Dutch-based TomTom, best-known for its car navigation systems, launched its location-based services platform on Thursday as it looks to compete in a crowded marketplace for Web and mobile maps.
The platform is available for free on a trial basis but developers have to pay if they use the data for commercial purposes.
The new service provides developers access to location and navigation data - including traffic management and routing - and can also be used for collecting location-based intelligence, said Peter Davie, director of product management licensing at TomTom.
Mapping has emerged as a critical application in the mobile computing economy, and TomTom has lagged in taking advantage of the smartphone revolution.
TomTom, the largest navigation device maker in Europe and one of the top three digital map makers globally, has been hurt as consumers increasingly opt for free or cheap navigation software available on smartphones and tablet computers.
The new cloud-based service is a first step in taking advantage of the huge opportunities in the sector, and TomTom says it has had a lot of inquiries from companies interested in using TomTom maps for location data.
(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Gary Hill)