Take That, Google! MapQuest Snags OnStar Deal

Given my current obsession with digital mapping and all things location-based, don’t be surprised if you see more short news blurbs here about deals such as the one announced by AOL’s MapQuest and General Motor’s OnStar. OnStar is launching a new service called eNav, which, as their press release states:

…will allow subscribers to have directions sent from their computer to specially-equipped vehicles. Once the directions have been sent to the user’s car, they can then be accessed via voice-guided commands. In 2009, under the terms of the agreement, eNav users will be able to download directions directly to their vehicle’s screen-based navigation system.

The eNav service, which piloted last year under the name “Web Destination Entry,” is available to all of GM’s 2.65 million Turn-by-Turn-capable vehicles as of today. (See video below the fold)

OnStar is also announcing another new service, called Destination Download, which enables users to interact with the navigation system while driving.

OnStar subscribers with screen-based navigation systems can press a button and be connected to an adviser. This adviser will then find the driver’s location, send it to the system and an icon will pop up on the car’s screen prompting the driver to input where he/she wants to go. Once the system is notified of a final destination point, it then sends turn-by-turn directions and drivers can continue on their journey.

The deal is a big shot in the arm for MapQuest, which has lost much of the market’s attention to more Web 2.0-savvy mapping services from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. (It’s also beginning to lose some traction in terms of traffic.) And it’s the second major GPS deal for MapQuest in less than a week; the company announced a partnership with Garmin on Monday.

OnStar and MapQuest are two perfect examples of stand-alone businesses that are buried in large corporations and as such, are worthy spin-out candidates.