MapmyIndia is also working on developing a tracking device for two-wheelers targeting the volume segment. It already has a solution for high-end vehicles. “The challenge for us is to convince engineering teams in the automotive industry that this is something they can rely on as the confusion that has already been created in the ecosystem results in hampering innovation in the industry. This is something we are trying to fight. We are trying to promote that the system is ready,” says Verma.
Around 2006 the company started to market maps as ‘navigation ready’ to customers across the automotive, handset and telecom operator segments. “At the time nobody was willing to take the risk of providing maps in gadgets. Many people said it looks great but will have to wait and see,” he said. In 2007 the company launched a GPS navigation device showcasing the value of the feasibility of navigation. GM India was the first OEM to take notice and in early 2008 asked the company to sell these products through the dealerships. Eventually the portable gadget became part of GM genuine accessories. MapmyIndia then had two models with a 3.5-inch screen covering 18 cities at street level and options to reach 174,000 towns and villages via 55,000 km of national and State levels with about 100,000 points of interest. “Today we have covered 902 cities at street level with about 3.5 million points of interest. We have recently introduced door-to-door navigation to house addresses in about 13 cities,” says Verma.
Ford India followed suit recommending the navigation gadget as genuine accessory. In addition the vehicle manufacturer offered it as in-dashboard navigation in its SUV Endeavour. The company provided a navigation box which is compatible to Kenwood’s multimedia system, thereby benefitting the end-user with navigation facilities in the single screen. “Along the way almost every vehicle manufacturer has begun to work with MapmyIndia in some way or the other. However, we have a long way to go still,” he says.
From an in-dash perspective, four vehicle manufacturers – Ford India, Mitsubishi, BMW and Hyundai -- have launched navigation systems with MapmyIndia. Verma says the development process is different for each car maker, depending upon its product planning cycle. For some companies, “we offer the box and for some we work with them in integrating the maps in their equipment. In addition to creating the maps we have also invested in creating map interfaces with all the leading Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers across the world. When a car manufacturer wants to launch navigation system we have off-the-shelf readymade solutions, which only has to be fine tuned for the specific models / cars. Therefore, the time to market is reduced to a great extent,” he said. Now the company is associating with most of the car manufacturers in the country. Since tracking systems has moved from once being a luxury fitment to a near-essential feature, several vehicle manufacturers are looking at offering this as OE fitment. This is because it is one of the top five features of the vehicle.
Currently several vehicle manufacturers including GM India, Ford India, Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra , Tata Motors and Toyota Kirloskar Motor have made navigation devices from MapmyIndia as genuine accessory fitments. The company currently has seven models in Rs 8,000 up to Rs 21,000 price band. The difference is basically in screen size (3.5 to 5-inch) and features beyond navigation like in-built multimedia players, Bluetooth, and A/V slot to connect camera for reverse assist system. “We will look at ‘navitaiment’ in the high-end devices as the demand from high-end cars,” he says.
Apart from English, the company offers navigation device in eight regional languages including Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. “From our customers’ perspective, the most important factor is that they like the fact that we are able to give local field support in India. In addition to a band of engineers, we have about 120 sales and service staff across the country,” Verma says.
MapmyIndia does not manufacture the hardware and the company outsources from China, Taiwan and Korea, as per its specifications based on the kind of solutions it offers to customers. The company integrates the map and software and sells it. The ‘Road Pilot’ model that retails for Rs 8,000 is an attempt to offer cost-competitive solutions. Till early 2010, the unit was priced at Rs 12,000 and the company is now exploring options to develop a gadget that will be still more cost competitive. Asked if the company will look at options to manufacture hardware in India, Verma says imports are better due to shear capacities. However, these gadgets are costlier due to customs duty classification, which have an up to 30 percent import duty against mobile phones, which attract only four percent. If the customs duty is reduced, it will help increase volumes.
MapmyIndia recently received a second round of funding ($9 million) from a consortium headed by Qualcomm Ventures. The company has already received investment from by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Sherpalo Ventures and Nexus India Capital.