AutoNavi, the Chinese mapping company Alibaba Group has fully acquired, made its monetization plans quite clear at the 2014 World Geospatial Developers Conference (WGDC): (1) transaction-based commissions from third parties who use its data and solutions; (2) enabling services on its platform to trade user data and take commissions.
AutoNavi has been introducing offline stores or third-party services onto its map-based marketplace, hoping to build a Taobao-style platform. Taxi booking apps, house cleaning service Gviva, moving & house cleaning service Taskp, real estate service Homelink and many others have been on the platform. Alibaba also has built marketplaces for offline stores, from group-buying to online restaurant booking, so that it has data about those merchants.
AutoNavi has launched application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) for online services or mobile apps to use its data. The company will launch a solution that enables those aforementioned services to take payments (possibly through Alipay) and create routes for users — It’s already possible on Alipay for users to search for stores nearby, find routes on AutoNavi’s Amap, and, of course, make payments.
The company plans to take commissions from orders generated through the solution, according to Tian Mi, GM at AutoNavi’s LBS open platform and data division, who spoke at WGDC. What’s interesting is the marketplaces run by Alibaba, now AutoNavi’s parent company, don’t take transaction-based commissions but have been making big profits through in-market advertising.
AutoNavi said it was also developing a solution for third-party services to share their user data, hoping to taking transaction-based commissions too.
We heard that UC Web, which has been fully acquired by Alibaba, will be overseeing the LBS division of Alibaba, which means AutoNavi will be under the new UC business group of Alibaba. UC Web has been monetizing its mobile browser through search marketing, display ads, gaming, among others. We’ll see what former UC Web management think of the monetization plans.
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