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Mobile commerce

CommunicAsia 2010: Navteq Preps India Ad Launch

SINGAPORE -- CommunicAsia 2010 -- Digital navigation and location-based services specialist Navteq is set to become the first company to offer location-based advertising services in India when it launches the service in the mobile-mad country later this year, the company tells Light Reading Asia.

"We are working with the operators as well as the advertisers, and will be launching the services by the end of this calendar year," says Sandy Agarwal, director, Asia/Pacific and Middle East, at Navteq Media Solutions, though he declined to reveal any further details of the launch or the company's partners.

Chicago-based Navteq, which was acquired by Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) for about US$8 billion in late 2007, claims it has 3 million Points of Interest (notable locations, such as restaurants and tourist attractions) in India. (See Nokia Nabs Navteq for $8B.)

But while other location-based services are available, the advertising service will likely be limited to some specific regions. "We are talking to the advertisers, and there is a strong interest from FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] and the retail segment," says Agarwal.

Navteq hasn't launched location-based advertising services in any emerging market to date, and Agarwal agrees that cracking the market in India is going to be difficult. While Global Positioning System (GPS) services have been a big hit in the North American and European markets, they haven't been in demand in India, where the mobile population, which now tops 600 million, hasn't seen any value in the capability.

"The biggest challenge earlier was that the tariff was on the higher side," notes Agarwal. "Once the operators launch fixed data plans with unlimited usage, more and more people will start using GPRS [general packet radio service] and eventually the uptake of these services will increase. Also, a big percentage of [India's] subscriber base is not aware that they have data service capability. However, once we show them that there is a value in location-based services, it will work," believes Agarwal.

In addition, new 3G services from the privately held mobile operators that recently won spectrum are expected to be launched before the end of this year, and that should further boost demand for all manner of location-based services.

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

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