TomTom has a Doh! moment with Homer Simpson satnav


There is little doubt that when it comes to consumer satellite navigation devices, TomTom pretty much rules the roost. There is equally little doubt that in the past it has made some pretty serious mistakes, such as introducing the world to the first virus infection distributed by a satnav device. But surely introducing the voice of Homer Simpson to announce your driving directions has to go down as the biggest mistake so far.

Not a financial mistake, that's for sure. By doing a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Locutio Voice Technologies, TomTom has pulled off something of a commercial coup by getting the genuine and original voice of Homer Simpson, as recorded by Dan Castellaneta, onto its devices. The fact that it can charge owners who want to upgrade their units to the new voice a none-too-shoddy UKP £7.95 to download the voice files almost guarantees a nice little earner I suspect.

However, I also suspect it will not be long until we hear of someone blaming Homer Simpson and the satnav through which he is speaking, for an accident. After all, while it is very funny (at least the first time) to hear Homer saying such things as "take the third right. We might find an ice cream truck! Mmm…ice cream" it is also hugely distracting if you are actually trying to get from A to B. Let's face it, drivers really do not need any additional excuse for satnav inspired motoring madness.

TomTom promises "unpredictable and comical commands" when what road safety and common sense surely demands are clear and precise commands?

Damian Woodward, sales and marketing manager, TomTom UK & Ireland, insists that "Celebrity voices are the most popular downloads that we offer our customers to enable them to personalise their driving experience. With Homer Simpson’s voice helping them to navigate during their trip, TomTom users will not only travel safely and with less stress, but they will also be highly entertained along the way."

Sorry Damian but quite how having Homer going into some comedy routine just, in effect, to say turn left is beyond me.

Some of the Homer satnav samples are available here so you can make up your own mind. Let me know what you think, bit of harmless fun or a safety hazard?

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...