AutoNavi, the Chinese mapping company fully acquired by Alibaba, has decided to set aside the idea of building a Taobao marketplace based on maps and to refocus on business-facing solutions. Yu Yongfu, the new head of Alibaba’s location-based services (LBS) division, said at a recent event that AutoNavi had shifted focus to technical solution development from user-facing applications.

At Alibaba’s annual developer conference last month, AutoNavi unveiled Smart LBS, an initiative to enable mobile apps to embed Amap (AutoNavi’s digital map product) and other location-based features.

An HTML5 geolocation API has been released for third-party apps to customize the embedded map, by adding markers, directions or location-based search (see image below). It aims at web-based applications built on top of WeChat’s Public Account system or Alipay’s Service Window platform.

Adding Markers, Directions, Location-based Search

AutoNavi doesn’t want to miss out on opportunities in the smart hardware movement. It has released an SDK so that hardware products will be able to provide positioning, maps, navigation, or location-based search service. The child-tracking bracelet by Qihoo 360 and Ghost drone have adopted the solution.

All the offerings are free of charge. Mr. Yu said at the developer conference that they would not monetize these services within three years.

Tenent has acquired a stake in NavInfo.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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