The European Commission has just opened an investigation into TomTom's proposed purchase of Tele Atlas, claiming that consumers could be hurt by a GPS hardware maker owning one of the two major digital map providers. Specifically, the so-called "in-depth inquiry," which will be concluded no later than April 17th of next year, stems from "serious doubts that the acquisition by TomTom of Tele Atlas might...lead to a significant impediment of effective competition within the EEA." With Nokia going after NAVTEQ and Garmin having given up on Tele Atlas, this investigation clearly makes sense from the free market standpoint, as the Dutch firm is not likely to slip past without at least committing to fair map licensing terms for other PND manufacturers. In response to the Commission's announcement, TomTom decided to extend its offer for shares of Tele Atlas until March 31st, 2008, with the option to issue another extension if certain conditions are not met.

[Thanks, Daniel]