Nokia’s Trapster Could Have Been Waze

Nokia’s Trapster Could Have Been Waze
Following the $966 million acquisition of Israeli start-up Waze by Google a few weeks ago, it is interesting to compare its fate with Trapster, another start-up app that was quite similar, pioneered the community-based driving app and was acquired by digital map vendor NAVTEQ.

Launched in 2008 Trapster, offered an app centered around a community reporting speedtraps locations, red light cameras, police controls and other types of hazards on the road.

Even if turn-by-turn navigation was not in Trapster and real-time traffic came at a later stage, both apps shared a deep sense of community. In addition, while real-time traffic is the number one reason why using Waze, warnings about police presence comes as a good second.

Looking at the timeline waze actually started to thrive when Trapster started to decline, which makes the comparison even more interesting.

Pioneering driver’s community
As an app for Symbian, Blackberry, J2ME and Windows Mobile, Trapster was available even before the iPhone had a SDK and an app store. But eventually the iPhone app store distribution and later on Android Market made its success. For almost two years (2008-2010) the app was head to head with MapQuest leading the navigation section of the iTunes U.S. store.

Pushed by viral growth and the public relation know-how of its founder Pete Tenereillo, the app reached between 15,000 to 50,000 daily downloads between 2008 and 2010. The app enjoyed peaks up to 400,000 unique users per week, while the penetration of smartphone was still relatively small.

At the end of 2010 the count of app downloads was ticking 10 million with 2 to 2.5 million monthly users of the app.

End of 2010 Trapster unfortunately went out of cash and existing investors were not willing to open up their wallet again for an app that was free and not even trying to make money from advertising.

NAVTEQ, already owned by Nokia, was enduring at that time a fierce competion from Google Maps and as a consequence in search of ways to crowdsource data from consumers. NAVTEQ management was also looking at demonstrating its independance from Nokia, so making their own acquisitions was in line with that.

Trapster was therefore looking like a good fit for NAVTEQ which sealed the deam in December 2010. Although the financial details of the acquisition were not made public, NAVTEQ payed less than $10 million for this acquisition.


Wednesday, July 31st 2013

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