There are loads of LBS services developed in the past year. They are mostly mobile applications such as location-based check-in service, location-based games etc. They are indeed interesting! However, when I think about it, the most important location-based service I am actually using daily is the most ‘straight-forward’ one, the GPS navigation.

At NAVTEQ developer event organized by GWC, I met an interesting GPS telecom company ZorroGPS and its president Ms. Jianglin Zhang and Eric Mergy, CEO of ZorroGPS. ZorroGPS is founded in 2006 and launched its first GPS application/service in 2009. The company is based in Beijing, it has more than 80 R&D staff and the GPS products are available in >50 countries worldwide. In Euro, ZorroGPS is the one of the most downloaded GPS navigation application on App Store, and even take the No.1 in some European countries such as Finland. In other words, ZorroGPS in fact is the only Chinese GPS company which targeting at global market. And ZorroGPS is obviously doing quite well, it won “Best Touch User Interface (UI) Application” award at Global LBS Challenge at Mobile World Congress, Spain this year and also referred as the future leader in navigation market by NAVTEQ.

Ms. Zhang explained to me the company’s vision and also gave me a quick demo of its GPS application on both iPad and iPhone. I have to say that I was quite amazed by the performance, functions of the products as well as Ms. Zhang’s vision.

– Super fast Navigation Engine

Talking about the performance of a GPS software, we most concern about the speed of route calculation and the accuracy of the location information. So I gave ZorroGPS a go and let it calculate the route from Shanghai to Guangzhou (a long way..), surprisingly ZorroGPS finished it in just 1 second with acceptable accuracy.

– Navigation bundled with real-time services

The cool thing about ZorroGPS is that it has bundled with many real-time services. For example, with ZorroGPS, you can not only search for the restaurant nearby or at certain area, but also make the reservation; it can navigate you to the cinema and also tell you which movies are on show right now; it can tell you the closest car park with the information of how many parking lots left right now. “The future of GPS navigation is not just about location, it should be bundled with internet service, telecom service and real-time location-related data.” Jianglin said, “We are working with all sorts of data providers and open our platform so everyone can add their own points of interests for their communities.”

– Further thoughts

As I wrote in about post (in Chinese), the first time I’m sort of involved with location-based service is back to around 1999. I was at the university working with a lecturer from the Dept. of Geography, but at that time, the term we were using is Geographic Information System (GIS); now thanks to 3G, location-related stuff is hot again, but the term we are more familiar with is Location-based Service (LBS). I would not say there is a fundamental change in the industry because still the location information is the core part, but we have seen more advanced mobile devices are now on market (smart mobile phone, portable gps device/chip etc), more and more popular cloud map service (e.g. Google Map) and more important, the targeting users in location-related market has changed from enterprise-only to mass consumers. GIS has established a very stable business model as it brings valuable information (e.g. industry data, location-related data analysis etc) together with location data to the enterprise users; but when it comes to Mobile 2.0, the current business models (such as check-in) for LBS services are still in big question. ZorroGPS is trying to innovate the next generation of GPS navigation by bundling internet service and real-time data. For all LBS operators, we need think over what value other than location we can bring to the users to meet their daily needs.

Within 2 months, ZorroGPS’s China version (with China map service and local real-time information) will be released. Jianglin is quite excited about it. “2011 we will be focusing on Chinese market. As ZorroGPS has launched over 50 countries version, we also hope that all Chinese who travel abroad will use ZorroGPS as their first choice. We want to be the most succesfully GPS navigation service company in the world from China.” Jianglin and Eric truly believe so.