With proliferation of internet, growth in mobile devices, applications, increasing urbanization, rise of e-commerce and on-demand services, the power of location has been the key driver underneath. Location-centric solutions such as maps have been the enabling force not only for getting from point A to B but also for search, discovery and adding context to so many other aspects from content to communication. Considering this, the location maps providers have been transforming into a more of a platform play to add intelligence on top of the maps to capture the context and analytics to analyze different intelligent data points and transform into information for actionable services. These actionable services will power advanced connected autonomous transportation systems as well as plethora of connected things ensuring better productivity, safety and experiences.
Exhibit 1: Open Location Platform Approach A Winning Strategy
As a result, at Counterpoint Research, we have expanded our location ecosystems research evaluating different key independent location platform providers on different metrics to measure their transition and positioning into a complete versatile “location platform”. Our latest research evaluation for the first half of 2017 is based on different parameters from richness of database, location intelligence loopback, analytics engine, different location solutions, services, business model approach as well as customer, investor and partner traction across different verticals.
Commenting on the findings, Research Director, Neil Shah, noted, “Key mapping and navigation players are transforming from mapping solution-centric to a more open and horizontal service-centric platform approach. Though very few players in this ecosystem have fully aligned to this futuristic approach to scale the platform using a truly open-partnership model. HERE has been driving this trend to be a pure conflict-free horizontal platform which has helped it to become the leading location platform player globally. HERE’s leading open mapping platform has integrated customer and partner driven location intelligence with the rich mapping database topped with big data analytics capabilities allowing it to build newer services and power unique but advanced location experiences across the spectrum. Google closely follows for now on mapping dataset and solutions front because of its strong consumer offering via Android platform. However, lesser focus on enterprise grade mapping and conflicting business model approach is driving potential customers to likes of HERE and TomTom”
Mr. Shah, further adds, “The Open Location Platform (OLP) approach adopted by HERE has put it in a unique position to expand customer base, strike key strategic partnerships and attract investments. The momentum has continued to build across IoT, automotive verticals with series of partners and customers contributing to HERE’s platform dynamically with its data and making it richer to leverage location intelligence and analytics. However, attracting consumer facing application developers to drive Google type scale, building more potential services based on the growing customer contribution to the open location intelligence platform and driving monetization from the newly driven services should be the key focus areas moving forward to widen the lead with nearest rivals.”
Exhibit 2: Global Location Platform Index & Rankings
Research Director Jeff Fieldhack, highlighted, “Google leads in terms of access to billions of active map users giving it enormous scale and making it map database richer from search, POI and basic navigation perspective. However, Google’s advertising and user data profiling driven business model is a conflict of interest for many app developers and services providers on its own platform as well as other potential customers in IoT and automotive segments, stunting its growth opportunities to grow as a location platform beyond smartphones.”
Further, Mr. Fieldhack adds, “Google is less focused on making its mapping database enterprise grade or as open as HERE and actually more focused on leveraging location context to drive advertising revenues. Google has its work cut out to drive serious traction in enterprise and automotive segments where rivals are leading not only with solutions but next generation location based intelligent services as well. The vertically integrated rival Apple is also at disadvantage trying to catch up with rivals platform quality and learning that building a mapping platform is a tough task. Apple has certainly seen decent progress over the years for its mapping solution but still far away from HERE or Google grade or becoming a true location platform”
Commenting on third ranked location platform player, Research Director Tom Kang, highlighted, “TomTom is transforming well with HD Maps and focus on autonomous vehicles to drive its licensing business though its vertically integrated consumer hardware business dilutes the focus on potential opportunity out there. Having said that, TomTom has been able to drive some momentum in telematics space in last one year or so. This momentum needs to further expand into high value enterprise and automotive sector.”
On other leading location platform providers, Mr. Kang, adds, “There are number of other mapping platforms with great mapping and navigation solutions such as SK Telecom’s T-Maps, Naver in South Korea to Zenrin in Japan to AutoNavi and NavInfo in China. But these players are grouped and ranked under regional champions leading in their respective geographies with advanced location platforms but not yet global level scale of Google or HERE missing out on huge opportunity out there. On the other hand, players such as Mapbox and Telenav have great potential are quietly chipping away share away from Google steadily building a strong mapping platform offering to the location ecosystem players.”
The comprehensive 1H 2017, Location Platform Index research – Value Chain, Evaluations, KPIs, Profiles, Traction, Focus Areas and more on key Location Platform Players is available for subscribing clients and can be downloaded from our Research Portal (http://counterpointinsights.com/)