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‘We are excited about the enterprise segment in India’

India is a very important market for Nokia, Location & Commerce, with huge opportunities. In a tete-a-tete with Geospatial Media, Tarun Harnathka discusses the company’s offerings for the Indian market and plans to tap the opportunity

Tarun Harnathka
Tarun Harnathka
Director, Regional Map & Content
Indian Subcontinent
Nokia, Location and Commerce

India is a very important market for Nokia, Location & Commerce, with huge opportunities. In a tete-a-tete with Geospatial Media and Communications, Tarun Harhathka discusses the company’s offerings for the Indian market and plans to tap the opportunity

From Navteq to Nokia, Location and Commerce – tell us about it in the Indian context?
Over the past several months, we have been internally transitioning our brand globally from NAVTEQ to Nokia, Location & Commerce – a new division within Nokia that combines NAVTEQ with Nokia Services. Although we have a new name, we remain firmly committed to the same objectives as in the past – to supply our customers with highest quality map, location content and services in an aim to bring innovations at a more rapid pace and move the location industry forward in India.

Nokia’s Location & Commerce business has been established to enable unique location experiences for great mobile products, the navigation industry and the automotive market through a focus on content (location data), social location services (social location platform and apps), and local commerce offerings

We are building the means to create a digital, predictive model from all the places and objects in the physical world, including people’s activities, to enable a “where” ecosystem. Our location content and platform are powering the efforts of partners from web enterprises as well as the car and mobile industry to develop complementary location-based services and other offerings.

India is a very important market for us and we see a huge opportunity here. Navigation and location are at a nascent stage in India, but owing to the growth in population, rapid development, and the need to get to places in time, navigation products and services are becoming crucial.

What is the kind of potential you see for navigation and location-based services in India?
India is an emerging market for navigation and location based services. We have seen a rapid increase in awareness of navigation – on smartphones it has increased by 26 percentage points in one year (from 61% on 2010 to 87% in 2011), and on in-vehicle navigation devices it has increased by 12 percentage points (from 67% in 2010 to 79% in 2011).

The India vehicle navigation market is also experiencing strong growth. In the past, aftermarket has grown faster than in-dash navigation. However, now, all major OEMs have launched navigation or at least conducting trials for in-dash navigation systems in India. We expect the uptake of in-dash navigation to accelerate from 2012.

The growth of GPS smartphones and launch of 3G services in India have resulted in a buoyant LBS apps ecosystem never seen before previously. While the growth in the mobile subscriber base seems to have slowed down, revenues from data services are rising. Even basic feature phones can now use navigation services through SMS-based applications.

With more and more automobile manufacturers talking to us on providing navigation solutions as differentiators in their automobiles and with an increase in the uptake of smart phones, we do see the usage of navigation increasing in the India market.

In India, it is a common culture to ask for directions rather than rely on technology for navigation. How are you overcoming this challenge?
One of the unique characteristics of Indians is that they place value on guidance from people in order to reach their destination. And they look for this information in the form of Points of Interest (POI), like banks, hospitals, movie theatres, places of worship and traffic signals for guidance cues. Not only is this method many times not precise, but is also unsafe, especially for women.

We saw this uniqueness of culture as an opportunity and created and launched a new product known as NAVTEQ Natural Guidance in India. For the first time in India, navigation applications are able to provide guidance that moves beyond the norm of using only time- and distance-based directional cues – like ‘turn right after 50 metres’ — it guides users through vivid descriptions of static orientation point, for example, ‘turn left after the blue glass building’, or ‘turn right at the traffic signal.’

India is a huge country. What is your current map coverage in India?
We currently cover over 4,200 cities and over 6.25 million PoIs in India.

Kindly brief us about your map information collection mechanism. Is there any outsourcing involved?
Leveraging the right balance of people and technology allows for our competitive advantage in providing the highest quality map. Our India operations have the largest team of trained geographic analysts globally. The field team is 100% local, is present across 20 cities and collects and verifies up to 200 attributes. The teams ’own’ their piece of the map and monitor quality at every step of collection and production. This in-depth human factor delivers data consistent with real world conditions and results in multi-faceted and comprehensive products.

Do you face any challenges regarding capacities and technologies in map information collection?
In India, we have the most extensive network of digital map operations that helms an investment unrivalled by any other local map provider. We have a Global Research & Development centre in India (Mumbai) with approximately 150 engineers and developers. The centre is focused on creating innovative map content that would guide drivers through the unique demands of Indian driving.

In addition, we have the largest fleet of dedicated field vehicles supported by hundreds of on-ground local geographic analysts devoted to collection and processing of the NAVTEQ Map of India at our Mumbai Production centre. We are the first and the only ones in India to launch 270° multiview camera field vehicle with 6 hi-resolution cameras. This technology capture images every 5 metres to create a ‘video’ with a 270° picture of the road, improving the overall database accuracy and quality.

How often is the data updated?
Our local field team drives and walks millions of kilometres every year in order to capture and validate changes to the road network and POI. Because the road network in India changes constantly, the key to updating rapidly developing areas is the local knowledge and field data collection by our team of geographic analysts. We make changes to our map database on a daily basis and our maps are released to our B2B customers on a quarterly basis.

Are you tailormaking your products for the Indian market?
The map building process has country specific nuances. We researched the India market before entering, to ensure that our maps are developed by local experts who possess the local knowledge and know their cities well. In addition, products and services are developed based on the needs of local consumers.

As mentioned earlier, one of the unique characteristics of Indians is that they place value on guidance from people in order to reach their destination. Our navigation applications are able to provide guidance that moves beyond the norm of using only time- and distance-based directional cues.

India is a growing country and especially in the metros, traffic is a huge issue. It is not easy for a driver to take his eyes off the road to view a navigation device. This again was an opportunity for us and we launched NAVTEQ Voice that allows users’ navigation device to understand their spoken commands and provide users with clearly pronounced instructions. This guidance helps them see where they are going without taking their eyes off the road.

The road infrastructure in India is constantly changing. Our local field teams ‘own’ their piece of the map – they are passionate about building the most robust map database and importantly, their local presence ensures that we are constantly aware of the changes in the local road networks, ensuring that we have the highest quality map data.

In India, we have an extensive network of digital map operations and advanced, patented map data collection process. Besides having two global production centres in Mumbai, we also have a global research and development centre that is focused on creating innovative map content that would guide drivers through the unique demands of Indian driving.

On an average, we have launched a new product every quarter in India in the last year.

Nokia L&C is providing real-time traffic information in select metropolitan cities. How do you ensure real-time traffic information?
NAVTEQ Traffic Pro is a robust traffic service that is designed to provide real-time traffic information to in-vehicle navigation systems, personal navigation devices, mobile phone users, tablets and websites.

We aggregate and analyse traffic data from multiple sources to provide traffic information to customers across Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore. These sources include:

  1. Compilation of commercial and consumer probe data among traffic suppliers. We anonymously track connected devices travelling along roads to detect traffic density, vehicle direction and speed.
  2. Billions of historical traffic records collected over the past several years.

GPS probe data technology has been our key technology worldwide. We have deployed the same probe data technology in India too. However, probe data is not the only ingredient; we have also deployed sophisticated modeling techniques based on map attributes to generate accurate traffic information.

The service is available via an XML Data feed based on global specifications and is delivered via standard web protocol. The service is applicable / available to in-vehicle navigation systems, PNDs, smart phones and websites. It enables traffic map display, arrival time estimation and dynamic routing.

You have also started offering indoor mapping services in India. How has been the response?
Typical navigation solutions today guide users to where a destination is approximately located. Navigation to a shopping mall, for example, takes a user to the closest location to a listed address on the road network, while in reality the final destination for the user could be a shoe store on the second floor of the mall. Destination Maps addresses this need of “last metre guidance” by guiding the user all the way to the shoe store.

With more than 250 new malls expected to be accessible to Indian consumers by end of 2012, Mumbai, Delhi (National Capital Region) and Bangalore will lead the country in retail space development, with almost 70% of the malls setting up base in these cities. This means increased footfall and an opportunity for mall operators to differentiate consumer’s shopping experience to encourage re-visits.

We believe that the demand for this product would arise from smartphone makers and service providers. At the same time, we also foresee interest from our automotive customers who might utilise this information to enhance driver guidance to the nearest mall entry and exits, entrance to car park etc.

Location information can serve as base geospatial data for activities other than providing directions. How can other segments benefit from such information?
Worldwide, we work with companies in logistics and transport. In India, with growth in the number of merchants, there is a need for more efficiency, which is where our enterprise offerings can be useful. Geospatial applications that increase productivity can have a direct impact on reducing labour and maintenance costs of equipment (e.g., truck fleets or public works heavy equipment). Furthermore, geospatial technology, coupled with high quality data, can also generate cost savings and cost avoidance benefits for businesses. During times of economic distress, a company might need to determine which of its stores are producing more and should remain in business and which ones should be closed. We are positive and excited about the enterprise segment in India.

Sometime back, Nokia L&C had announced that Garmin had selected the company as the preferred map supplier for India. What is your strategy for the PND platform?
Garmin is our global PND customer and in India, we have been working closely with multiple partners including Garmin. Recently, Garmin announced two devices in India: 40LM and 50LM, both of them utilise NAVTEQ Maps.

We expect PND growth to come from the aftermarket in the automotive segment. We are also working with leading players like Garmin, Navon and NNG to launch these aftermarket solutions for the automotive segment. Many leading automotive OEMs are increasingly viewing navigation as a key differentiator in a highly competitive automotive market.

What are your plans to tap into the potential of the PND market and the LBS market?
Our efforts in India have been extensive – we have two production centres in India, both launched in a span of two years and one of which is the largest for us globally. We also have an R&D unit with over 150 engineers and developers. In the last one year, we have launched one new product every quarter on an average in India and they cater to the unique demands of Indian driving – NAVTEQ Natural Guidance, Visual Content, NAVTEQ Traffic Pro and NAVTEQ Destination Maps.

Though navigation was an unexplored territory until late, we see a large opportunity here. We are working with our customers in the automotive, wireless and PND segments and we expect to see more line-fit launches, collaborations in the aftermarket segment and more and more applications being launched in the wireless space

Nokia, L&C has been established to enable a unique location experience for mobile products, the navigation industry and the automotive market. With greater connectivity and more robust location-search capabilities, we expect to deliver more efficient location-based services to the consumers and enterprises in India.

Nokia is one of the leading cellphone players in the Indian market. How are you capitalising on this market presence vis-a-vis your location business?
Our leadership in the cellphone market enables us to bring advantages back to all of our customers, including advanced technology, access to input from our massive user base and the ability to invest more in our database.