The Upcoming O2O War Between Baidu and AutoNavi?

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The past years have been seeing the increasing competition in online map service field as Maps turned itself into the new mobile gateway. Baidu and Autonavi, a search giant and a map service veteran, “accidentally” have the same plan of building up LBS life service platforms which could lead to a vicious fight between the two. Local portal site Tencent detailed what the warfare would be like.

 

Battle Time

Shen Li, general manager of Baidu BU revealed in October when the company established its LBS Business that revenue is not necessarily the biggest concern for this unit right now. The company believed that exploring a suitable solution for O2O and setting up the service system is more important.

On the other hand, Autonavi has been gearing up for a transformation from mapping data provider to a LBS life portal from late year on. VP Qie Jianjun of the company pointed that the current emphasis of the company is still to better serve the merchants, bring them customers and to satisfy them across the board. Apart from these tasks, the company will step on to commercialize the well-established mapping service.

 

Same Direction

Great minds think alike. The two players have identical strategies in their O2O approaches, namely the consuming guide. Though they operated towards the same direction from different ways.

According to latest data from Chinese Internet think tank eguan, by Q3 2012 Autonavi ranked first (25.9%) in terms of mobile map market share, while Baidu Map followed with 19.1%. The market share of Baidu Map has increased by 2% in the past two quarters.

With ten years’ experience in the market, AutoNavi boasts abundant location data that would take Baidu years to accumulate. In the past decade, Autonavi has been providing mapping API to many 3rd party developers and 120,000 websites including Alibaba, Tencent and Qihoo360. December 11th, it also announced strategic cooperation with Sina Weibo on products, data and cloud platform. “LBS will be the core of a new way of social services. We want to be the first lead in this,” said the VP. It is also revealed by Qie that the company has been trying to work with more O2O-focused companies and integrate their data.

While in Baidu’s case, Baidu Map also takes an open policy by providing data of maps, transportation, and street views to 3rd party developers. Currently Baidu’s O2O business covers more than restaurants, cinemas and KTV, it has also stepped into group-buying, coupons and takeout service. Baidu claimed to hit 77m users, 40 data-collaborating merchants, and have set up 4000 marketing platforms for local merchants.

 

Further Step To Offline

A balanced O2O business should attach equal importance to both online and offline businesses, however, both Baidu and AutoNavi are not quite sure on this. They’re hesitating on this. Autonavi pins the hope on its partners to provide offline resources. Baidu, oddly enough, doesn’t really give many credits to the offline end of O2O as Shen once said that Baidu was considering how to power up its O2O business without big offline team. According to her, Baidu already has offline teams serving local merchant that could be directly leveraged on, but she doesn’t think that’s the necessary path to a successful O2O business.