Vindigo Goes Paid with PDAs

After hinting about the move earlier this year, PDA-based city guide provider Vindigo is launching a subscription service for palm devices, sources familiar with the company said.

The city guide service, expected to be an annual fee of $24.95, is scheduled to launch on Monday, as the New York-based company releases its Vindigo version 2.0 application.

A Vindigo official refused to comment.

But during an interview with atNewYork in January, Vindigo CEO Jason Devitt dropped strong hints about going the paid subscription route for the palm device guides when the next version of Vindigo launches.

Devitt said in January that he was encouraged by the response to the $24.95 a year that users on the Microsoft PocketPC platform pay for the city guide information, and suggested that the paid service would roll out along with the latest version of Vindigo.

“Just like the current service, Vindigo 2.0 will allow you to choose any location in the city, to find everything playing in the area, and to sort the results by name or ranking, as well as distance from you,” Devitt told atNewYork in January.

Up until now, the free city guide information for the palm devices had been supported by advertising sponsorships. Last year was dismal enough for advertising deals in general, but particularly rough in the wireless advertising space, as companies questioned how effective their buys were.

Vindigo’s revenues come from licensing the company’s software to businesses with mobile workforces, but up until now, advertising revenue was the mainstay of its business model. Observers say it was only a matter of time that a paid, jazzed up version of the popular service would move to subscription fees for the palm devices too.

New features in the paid version are expected to include listings and descriptions for live music events, information about what’s playing at museums and galleries, and mapping services for locating cash machines and gas stations.

Users of the company’s free city and restaurant guide for palm devices would be able to use a stripped down version of Vindigo, but will be encouraged to take up the free trial for the paid service.

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