Slovakia-based navigation software developer Sygic has announced last week the acquisition of Be-On-Road, a turn-by-turn GPS navigation application for iOS and Android that uses free map data from Openstreetmap.
Be-On-Road was developed by Czech Republic-based Aponia Software, but this company will stay independent, the acquisition concerns only the navigation app.
In a phone interview with GPS Business News, Sygic CEO Michal Stencl explained the rationale behind this product acquisition: “This is a great acquisition that offers us a stake into the low end smartphone navigation market that uses Openstreetmap or other crowdsourced databases. This is also a protection against future competition, indeed Be-On-Road has been growing very rapidly, especially on Android. The app currently enjoys an average of 60,000 downloads per day.“
Last year Sygic posted revenue of $18 million. This year Stencl expects the revenue to grow 30 percent. From 55 million navigation app downloads to date he expects to reach 100 million users mid 2015.
Stencl currently estimates his company is the number two mobile navigation player worldwide in terms of downloads after Google/Waze. But unlike Google, he does not believe in making a good business with advertising; he prefers to monetize downloads with a freemium approach using in-app purchases.
The monetization of the free Be-On-Road app today is based on upgrades to better maps (i.e. TomTom or HERE), but in the future Stencl will prefer to stick to OSM for this app and offer new features as in-app purchases.
Automotive App Business
Besides the low end navigation market and his current business of premium paid apps, Sygic is also pursuing business with automotive companies with a dedicated team. Recently the app has been selected by Jaguar Land Rover to be part of InControl, the app platform of the luxury car maker.
Stencl forecasts to close deals with 2 or 3 more automotive players in the coming months. “We believe smartphone will play a primary role in vehicle navigation,“ he said to GPS Business News.
Stencl has for a long time been thinking that smartphone will defeat on-board navigation systems. Unlike his Hungarian competitor at NNG, he did not try to offer its software to car makers for on-board systems. Future will tell us if he is right.