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“We are very bullish about LBS”

Dec 2007 | No Comment

Rakesh Verma

CEO, MapMyIndia,
CE Systems on navigation market in India

How do you see the success of the Navigator in India where we culturally depend on word of mouth for directions?

There is a significant need for a GPS navigation device for all India . Depending on word of mouth for directions has set in as culture in India, because people felt they had not option, and so factor in an added 15 min – 30 min every time they set out for a new destination as the extra time it will take you to find the place. With availability of a GPS navigation device like the MapmyIndia Navigator, people can have more convenience, knowledge and safety on the roads, and we believe it is just a matter of using and trying this product before people start demanding it seriously. The situation is very similar to mobile phones when they were first introduced – before their arrival, we were all doing fine, and now we can’t do without them.

What makes the product different from other navigational devices available in the market?

The major differentiator for the MapmyIndia Navigator is the map inside. Comprehensiveness and accuracy of the maps drive the experience of using a navigation device, and this is our major advantage over any other navigation device not using our maps in the market today. MapmyIndia maps allow for seamless turn-by-turn navigation from any point to any point in the country – for e.g. nariman point, Mumbai to koramangala, Bangalore . The depth of our maps, covering all streets, localities, sub-localities and points of interest in 52 categories combined, with the seamless pan India breadth, covering towns and villages connected by national and state highways, allows our customers to use the MapmyIndia Navigator for turn-by-turn navigation to their destination anywhere in India, while other products do not.

The pricing is competitive given the 34% import duty on GPS navigation devices (versus 4% import duty on mobile phones equipped with GPS), and given the initial stage of the market and associated volumes. Remember the quality and quantity of map coverage we offer is unparalleled, and we believe that customers will pay a premium for that.

How accurate and authentic are the maps that Navigator uses?

MapmyIndia maps are the most comprehensive and accurate navigable maps available for India today, and are 100% our intellectual property. These maps are driving over 500 large enterprises including Coca Cola, HLL, Maruti, General Motors etc. including leading navigation players such as Airtel GPS Navigation, Yahoo! India maps portal, with more to be announced soon.

MapmyIndia Maps have all the necessary clearances from the Government of India.

What is the reason behind the choice of 2 hardware models?

Our objective is to provide consumers with complete options and choice of using MapmyIndia maps on the internet, on the mobile phone, or in-car. Specifically for in-car GPS navigation, we have released 2 hardware models to provide consumers with different formfactor and aesthetic options, and will be offering various other hardware models in the coming time, either on our own, or in conjunction with our partners.

Who are your target customers?

Broadly, anyone has a use for the MapmyIndia Navigator, as the GPS navigation device tells you where you are at all times, giving you safety and comfort, and guides you turn-by-turn to your destination. In the early stage of the market, we believe adopters would be technology enthusiasts, those who have seen these devices in US and Europe, and premium car owners would be most likely to buy the product.

For reference, in the US, 20 million PNDs (portable navigation devices) were sold last year, and in Europe over 30 million PNDs were sold last year.

How do you see the growth of LBS in India?

We are very bullish about LBS in India, and have been doing our best to drive this market with the availability of highly comprehensive and accurate maps for India.

We have also created a complete set of web-based APIs that can power any LBS application, be it for the internet or for the mobile phone.

We are developing an ecosystem of players in the LBS and navigation space – software and solution providers, mobile operators, handset manufacturers, automobile companies and PND manufacturers – to offer consumers high quality and pan India LBS applications using MapmyIndia maps – on the internet, on the mobile phone, and in-car.

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