Navigation in India: smooth sail or a bumpy ride

Nov 2008 | No Comment

Perspectives on key factors aiding and affecting in-car navigation in India.

Amit Prasad

Founder & MD, SatNav

Indian customers want cheap and best

At SatNav, we have had the privilege of seeing the Indian GPS Navigation Industry from the year 2002, the time we launched our first voice based system, when comments like ‘who needs it?’, ‘my driver knows all the places’, ‘I prefer asking a panwallah to such devices’were the norm. Today the world has changed where the comments are, ‘why doesn’t it tell me the right way to my home?’ and ‘it’s a useful product’, ‘we appreciate you for bringing this technology to our country’, in the year 2008. So we no longer have the challenge of going into OEMs and other organisations to convince them of the need to have an In-Car Navigation, the consumer has spoken loud and clear, and he definitely wants GPS in India too. With our direct to consumer online strategy in 2007, we have ensured that the same has happened. True, not in the numbers that are prevalent in the developed economies but surely there is a demand curve that is getting defined.

Does this mean there will be a smooth sailing from this point on? In our opinion, based on extensive interaction with various stakeholders of the industry, definitely not. What is going to make the ride ahead bumpy are factors like; (a) Unrealistic promises being made by current vendors to the fledgling consumer base in terms of what the product can or cannot do, this is setting wrong expectations from the technology in general and needs to be rectified if the GPS Navigation market is avoid going the way the Tracking services market did over the last few years. (b) Another problem is that while the consumer is very clearly appreciative of what he/she is getting, the decision makers in the channels which can actually bring the product into the market are still very pessimistic about what they see.

We need to quickly convert those nonbelievers and and tell them that GPS is here to stay, whether you like it or not.

And the more time you lose the more your competition is gaining in the process. So all players need to be realistic in what they commit, don’t say things just to make a short term sale, focus on educating the market and entrench yourself for the long haul. The company which does this best, will have a smooth sail while others are headed for the bumpy road!

The market is still growing by leaps and bounds there, these are not likely to affect consumer demand as long as the vendors offer value to customers I always say, Indian customers want cheap and best, whoever can give it to them has a bright future ahead!

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