Which way for navigation data?


Osman Iqbal: The navigation industry is seeing a bit of a slow down of late. How will the market shape up in the next couple of years?

Maarten Oldenhof: There'll be a shift from personal navigation devices to mobile devices, which can be used for more than just navigation in cars.

GPS-enabled smartphones open up enormous possibilities. However, these devices will require a different kind of service because of the geo component.

For instance, local weather information can be effectively retrieved using a mobile phone, since all these services are linked to XY co-ordinates.

The increasing integration of GPS chips into mobile devices will mean that more and more phones will be connected to maps. In the not to distant future, all mobile devices will possess GPS capabilities

OI: There's a bit of a buzz around the navigation market in Europe at the moment. Do you have any interest there?

MO: Right now, AND is not focusing on Eastern Europe. We believe that Western Europe and the US will continue to be the strongest markets in the coming years.

OI: What is needed to take map data to the next level? What features and services are consumers looking for?

MO: Personally, I believe you can get everything you need from the Internet. In theory, every address on the Internet could be connected to a map through a simple form of connectivity from your phone.

For example, you could go to a website to pick up information about a specific building in a particular city. It's an extra service on your mobile device, but it won't be a killer application for navigation because, to be honest, it's not useful for navigation at all.

However, connectivity is the key technology here, not the aspect of Internet browsing. Connectivity will ensure multiple services ranging from access to 3D maps, social networking and real-time dynamic map content.

I don't believe that maps will have all these items built into them. Thus, connectivity to off-board content is vital to enrich the navigation experience. Online browsing will never match the experience of a connected navigation map.

OI: How does AND differentiate itself from the bigger map providers?

MO: After Navteq and Tele Atlas, AND is the third biggest company in the digital map sector.

AND's way of producing maps is cheaper and faster, and price is becoming more and more relevant. We're also the only independent mapping company left in the market.

The fact that some navigation device manufacturers now have to buy maps from their biggest competitors presents an opportunity for us to become a big mapping company in the navigation sector.

OI: What will be the major trends for map data in the coming year? How have the expectations for map data changed since last year?

MO: The future of maps will be an online editable map, which gives mappers the opportunity to use feedback from customers.

OI: What does the future hold for Automotive Navigation Data?

MO: We're looking at mobile wireless devices with GPS. The device itself – whether PND or smartphone – is rapidly losing meaning in the market.

More devices will have GPS, which means that more devices will need maps. We don't care if they're PNDs or mobile devices – we want to provide those maps.

We see a lot of new opportunities due to the vertical consolidation in the market. In terms of regional focus, this year we'll concentrate on developing digital maps for Western Europe, and next year we'll focus on developing navigation maps for North America.

Maarten Oldenhof is CEO of AND Automotive Navigation Data. AND provides digital mapping data used for navigation and location-based services around the world. AND's clients in the personal navigation and Internet mapping sector include Garmin, Google, HP, IBM, Mapinfo, Microsoft and Thales Navigation.

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