NAVITIME: made in Japan and global ambitions for pedestrian navigation

Pedestrian route: summary mode
Pedestrian route: summary mode
While consumer navigation solutions are well advanced in Japan, they are rarely coming to North American or European shores. However, Japanese company NAVITIME is willing to change this in launching today on the U.S. market an off-board pedestrian and in-car navigation solution.

The true innovation of this solution is a feature called Total NAVI, which calculates directions from point A to point B using a combination of transportation methods in one search: walking, driving, riding (trains, subways, ferries, etc), and flying. The search results show routes using a variety of transportation methods, and users can compare and choose among those choices. Turn-by-turn voice navigation is available for both pedestrian and car navigations.

"Pedestrians have long relied on paper maps and print-out directions better suited for driving. Now, using their GPS phones, people can get navigation tailored for travelling on foot" says NAVITIME President Dr. Keisuke Onishi. "We started this service in Tokyo where many people rely on the complex public transportation system to get around. So far we have over 2.5 million paid subscribers across Japan, and this number shows there is great demand for pedestrian navigation. Other large cities around the world share similar transportation issues, so I am excited to launch our service globally."

Pedestrian route in map mode
Pedestrian route in map mode
Indeed, NAVITIME does not intend to limit its ambitions to the North American market, the company has strong ambitions in Europe and in the rest of Asia. The U.S. version of the application is now available for downloading on the NAVITIME website, and all functions will be “provided free of charge as a trial until September 30, 2008”, said the company today.

Currently, subway and train transit navigation are available for Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Other cities and public transportation methods will be updated based on data availability. “Car navigation is available across the United States using Navteq map data and Navteq traffic information”, said Mari Sekine, a spokesperson with the company.

The first operating system supported by the solution is Windows Mobile and is “ready to be used” for HTC Touch Cruise handsets. NAVITIME has scheduled to release Symbian, Java and BREW versions of the same software.

Pricing has not been unveiled yet, but “we expect to define the price at a very competitive level”, added Mr Sekine. The solution currently sells for ¥315 ($3) in Japan. However, Japanese wireless operators are not making huge profits on this kind of solution as operators currently do in Europe and in the United States, which explains this low price - and one of the reasons why this service is so successful.

Thursday, April 3rd 2008

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