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As consumers and enterprises in India start to adopt digital navigation and appreciate the benefits that come with it, in the long-term, the market will mature from a ‘navigation’ focus to a broader ‘location’ focus which encompasses a great range of use cases and device types. By Kahini Chakraborty

Consumer adoption of GPS products and services such as navigation devices for cars, mobile application and web mapping services has grown significantly in recent times. Research shows that India has a lot of potential when it comes to providing GPS solutions. Convergence of mobile GPS devices and the increase in high-end smartphone market in India has created a demand for low cost but high quality navigation systems. And the focus of companies such as Garmin, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Navteq and MapmyIndia corroborate this trend. According to a research report- ‘World GPS Market Forecast to 2013’ from marketresearch.com – it is projected that shipment of GPS devices will grow at a CAGR of more than 20 per cent during 2011-13 to reach around 900 million units by 2013. Besides this, Global Navigation Satellite Facilities (GNSS) technology, which is expected to be embraced by the positioning facilities through mobile phones and route guidance devices in the car, development of the GNSS market is anticipated in the next 20 years.

The growing number of smartphones, technology convergence, mobile commerce, and location-based shopping are all expected to boost the GPS market worldwide. And the growth driver to this can be attributed to the the increased usage of mobile mapping application in the US and Europe. GPS is a key component in many of the location-aware smartphone applications that have become popular in recent times. Thus, the number of subscribers of GPS-enabled location-based services (LBS) is anticipated to also grow substantially in the near future, with market revenue touching the mark of US$ 10 billion by 2013. Speedy enhancements and developments in digital mapping software will present this positive outlook for the industry in future. 

Rajat TandonWhile consumers and enterprises in India start to adopt digital navigation and appreciate the benefits that come with it, in the long term, the market will mature from a ‘navigation’ focus to a broader ‘location’ focus which encompasses a great range of use cases and device types. Besides this, enterprises are adopting geospatial solutions to increase visibility and transparency into the functioning of their organisations, and are using geographical business intelligence to help make better decisions as they look to either enter the Indian market, grow their presence in the Indian market, or increase efficiency in a hyper-competitive marketplace. “Growing opportunities in the automobile industry is spurring the uptake of factory fitted navigation and personal navigation after market solutions. Automotive OEMs are recognising that navigation will help differentiate their products and increase the value proposition of mid/high-end car models,” says Rajat Tandon, director – sales, Navteq India.

Setting trends

Its interesting to note that the demographic split of GPS navigation users in India consists of 90 per cent males and 10 per cent females. Also, males who are likely to be interested and end up buying the devices are in the age group of 21 years and above. According to the Social Economic Classification mostly this segment falls into Sec A. In terms of the regions there is maximum penetration in Delhi, Punjab and Mumbai. “While navigation is a relevant category for anyone who drives, walks, or even uses public transit, we see an opportunity for navigation devices to help women travel more confidently and believe that women can benefit immensely from device ownership (through navigation app on cell phones, portable navigation devices or in-vehicle navigation systems),” adds Tandon. Designed to provide real-time traffic information to its B2B customers like in-vehicle navigation systems, personal navigation devices, mobile phone users and websites, Navteq recently introduced Navteq Traffic Pro.

Leading the bandwagon are certain leading car manufacturers in India who have already introduced or are in the process of introducing GPS navigation into their product offerings, driven by demand from end consumers on one side, and by the ability to offer much more value-addition in the car with the help of GPS navigation devices in the car. For example, most of the latest cars being launched come equipped with GPS navigation like Mahindra XUV500, which comes with MapmyIndia GPS navigation built-in.

Rakesh VermaMapmyIndia launched in-dash navi-tainment systems recently, which have been also well received in the market. “We are meeting car manufacturers to offer built-in integrated in-dash navigation and entertainment systems in their cars. Telecom operators too are leveraging location-based services and high quality digital maps both for their value-added services offerings as well as in ensuring their networks can handle the rapidly growing demands of their subscriber base,” informs Rakesh Verma, managing director, CE Info Systems.

With navigating to new places becoming easier, the trend of opting for self drive options among travellers has been growing. This trend has also seen growth with regards to travel within India and more car rental companies coming forward to offer self-drive tours to those who are looking for some adventure. “Consumers
increasingly rely on, and seek more information from their navigation systems. Today’s navigation systems go beyond providing directions to the drivers. In addition to the industry leading Navteq map of India, we offer a wide range of location content to guide drivers effectively, especially when they drive without any human guidance,” adds Tandon.

Product advancement

But what about the products available in India as there are million points of interests including hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, petrol stations and hospitals? Mapping each and every corner of India is a challenge in itself. Dealing with this challenge of constantly innovating products, Verma says, “We update our maps continuously with our over 400 field surveyors and 150+ map specialist engineers who professionally survey and capture the changing landscape using state-of-the-art technology, as well as incorporate the feedback of our large community of individual and enterprise users. We publish map updates every four-six months across our various platforms in car, mobile, and internet for our users to get fresh data.”  The Navteq map of India currently covers 2,299 cities, 1.19 million kilometers of roads, and 6.47 million points of interest, including monuments, important buildings, landmarks, etc. “Our geographic analysts drive millions of miles annually across the world in order to capture and validate changes to the road network and points-of interest. Operating from 200 offices in 54 countries, our team of geographic analysts has the local expertise needed to ensure superior accuracy of our maps. The road network and attributes are constantly changing and as such a local presence is critical to change detection and verification in new and developing areas,” adds Tandon.

Tony AnMeanwhile, last year Garmin also introduced free lifetime map update and the new design GPS navigator nüvi 2565LM, nüvi 2465LM in the Indian market, along with  optional accessories of driving recorder and wireless rear view camera. Tony An, Asia marketing director, Garmin says, “Garmin nüMaps lifetime allows you to download up-to-date map information on streets, highways and points of interest as soon as new content is available. We have also introduced Garmin unique features, such as Junction View which helps drivers avoid last minute maneuvers, Bluetooth hands-free calling, Text-to-speech speaking street names in Indian accent, Voice Guidance available both in Hindi and English, House Number Search and ecoRoute providing the most fuel efficient route.”

Going further, is mobile technology is influencing the GPS industry in a good way. Providing pocket friendly GPS navigation smartphone developers in the market are aiding in giving access to turn-by-turn navigation and related services, as it is the first mode of contact among the youths. Most smartphones and tablets – including Android devices, Nokia and iPhone offer navigation and maps to users by utilising inbuilt GPS functions. As per a spokesperson from Nokia India, Nokia Maps are concentrating on localising all the available content to reach out to maximum number of users as ‘Location-based services’ which will help Nokia Maps to reach the next level and be the pioneer in the market. Localisation via GPS, Wi-Fi and network positioning shows interesting places nearby (up to 25 nearby places, within 30 min, 3-4 km walking distance) for its users. Likewise the Nokia Drive application which comes preloaded exclusively on Nokia Lumia devices brings turn-by-turn voice guided navigation with a dedicated in-car user interface to Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710. Nokia Drive helps users save costs with pre-loadable country map data and navigation voices. Nokia Drive is designed for an effortless driving experience and provides a fully-fledged PND-like experience in 50 languages, including Hindi, in more than 100 countries.

“Connectivity allows for a whole new level of interaction with devices and solutions to its users, and we are rapidly introducing connectivity into our range of products and solutions to consumers, enterprises and government agencies. MapmyIndia’s introduction of CarPad, our connected navigation tablet for the car, and also the launch of MapmyIndia ShowNearby, our location-based places application for Android, iPhone and Blackberry, are a few examples of how we are leveraging mobile technology to benefit consumers and move the industry forward,” adds Verma.

Way ahead

Cloud-based technological advancement is what the future holds for futher enhancing the value of GPS products and services used by Indian travellers. “MapmyIndia has already been at the forefront of innovation by launching high quality, detailed digital maps down to house address level as well as full 3D maps, which provide an immersive, augmented reality experience. In the future, we see the availability of live, dynamic information such as real-time traffic conditions on roads, events as well as discounts/deals available at nearby places etc helping in enhancing the value and benefits of these maps to Indian travellers,” informs Verma, adding that the company has also introduced India’s first internet connected and Android based in-dash GPS navigation and entertainment systems, which is the future of GPS navigation for vehicles in India.

Navteq also seems bullish on the potential of the Indian market. “We are in India, for India. Our quality map of India and localised map products cater to specific needs of Indian travellers, and we have invested extensively in India to meet the needs of our customers here – both in the automotive and wireless sectors,” adds Tandon. Over the last year, the company has announced key products for the Indian market  including Natural Guidance, Visual Content and Navteq Traffic Pro. 

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