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    Even though MapmyIndia does mapping, founder Rakesh Verma wants it to be seen as distinct from Google

    Synopsis

    MapmyIndia offers apps, mapping services and GPS products for fleet operators and consumers.

    Rakesh Verma, Founder & Managing Director, MapmyIndia
    MapmyIndia is a homegrown company offering apps, mapping services and GPS products for fleet operators and consumers.

    Excerpts from ET's interview with the company's Founder & MD Rakesh Verma, post the launch of two new consumer-focused vehicle tracking devices:

    Is MapmyIndia a consumer oriented company? Or do you sell only to businesses?
    A lot of our business interests are in the B2B2C space - expanded, that's 'business to business to consumer'. On the other hand, B2B is a small segment for us. For example, this might include supplying heavily localised map data to businesses who are keen on expanding reach to all corners of India. B2B2C is an indirect way of reaching the consumer (for example, a navigation solution that comes factory-fitted in a vehicle, which the consumer is ultimately using) while B2C would be direct (for example, the personal navigation devices or PNDs that are still sold in the car accessory market). In terms of revenues, 80% of our revenues is from B2B2C. Right now, we're thinking about how to pick up pace in the direct to consumer space because PNDs are not in favour anymore.

    These personal navigation devices (PNDs) were once the rage. What happened to them?
    They'll be out of stores soon since we have exhausted our stock. PNDs fell out of favour thanks to smartphones and cheap data. PNDs are not connected, meaning they store all map data locally - this data can get outdated fast. As a side note, we did sell a lot of PNDs in Pune for some reason. Right now, we're taking a call to concentrate efforts on devices that are connected. Even car companies today are talking about connected cars and we're following that trend. For instance, we used to do headrest monitors - those have been discontinued. Similarly, older in-dash navigation systems are being phased out. Only the smart, 4G connected Android systems will be left.

    So what are the company's plans to increase the direct B2C business?
    To start, I'll just say that this is not going to be at the cost of our B2B2C business. We recognised that our brand visibility was reducing because our B2C business was reducing too. On one side is Google - it's very difficult (or near impossible) to compete with them at that scale. It's not just a question of deep pockets either, it's about being effective.

    In the current scenario, you can't just offer free navigation on a phone. People will say 'fine - but you're too late'. Therefore, we came up with the idea of one app for tracking, navigation and driving behaviour. We call it the Move app. We've been developing it for a little over 15 months now. The app is already available but we're still testing the waters out before we make some noise about it.

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    So why should a consumer use the Move app instead of anything else? For instance, Google Maps comes built in on Android phones but a consumer will have to download Move.
    That's a good point. The first premise is that Move navigation is free. We have to offer a distinct, bolder navigation experience for free to consumer. There are a lot of extra, heavily localised features and data in it. As for making money, we'll have to do that through other means. That's where the sale of personal and vehicle tracking devices and subscriptions plans for those becomes important.

    Second, if you have one of the tracking devices from MapmyIndia (such as Safemate for personal use, the DriveMate for vehicles or the new MTrack and X1), you'll be able to track them through the same Move app. No need to have separate apps for everything.

    Third, you get features like 3D buildings, the ability to share your location, live traffic information (which is our own data), the ability to view or report city/traffic issues and our eLOC (e-location) service. Think of eLOC like a PIN code but far more precise. All these things are free too.

    Fourth, Move can be a driver behaviour monitor. Using the various sensors (GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope) on a phone, the app can give you an overall driver rating out of 5. It looks for things like sudden acceleration/deceleration and speeding. This is also free and part of the app. We'll probably go with a 'freemium' model that some apps follow: you pay only if you want the extra, advanced features and extended customisation. Even this will be available in monthly, quarterly or annual packs so a consumer can choose. Once all this is in place, probably consumers will see us differently compared to Google.

    The driving behaviour feature from the Move app is also something we can offer to fleet operators. A person who is managing a fleet of vehicles should be able to tell which of his/her drivers is driving in a better and more efficient manner.

    Do you plan on monetising the free version of the app using advertising (banners, text ads etc)?
    Instead of placing ads inside the app (which can lead to a poor user experience) we could do things like integration with other players like Ola, PhonePe and PayTM (to name a few). This provides an extra service for users and at the same time becomes an additional revenue stream. The app may not be as smooth as a Google Maps but it will be prettier and will have more localised info. We're making the app for both Android and iOS. That being said, the Android version is better at the moment - our Android app development team has moved faster.

    Tell us more about these tracking devices. Can they be installed by the owner? Why should a car owner get them?
    We've priced these devices low to make tracking more attractive and accessible to anyone. The MTrack for instance is a device you can install in your car that offers live vehicle tracking (complete with geofences, speeding alerts, stolen vehicle recovery). It is priced at Rs 3,990 with a 1 year subscription or Rs 5,490 with a 3 year subscription included. Anyone can buy it online (e-commerce players or our own website).

    The X1 (Rs 5,990 for 1 year and Rs 7,990 for 3 years) has a few extra features and is sold through car dealerships and aftermarket accessory shops. Where available, installation is also done for free. Unlike DriveMate, which is a plug-and-play solution for car tracking, MTrack and X1 do need to be professionally installed. We think it's a small investment to make to secure your car and greatly increase the chances of recovery in case of theft.

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