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Concept Arbitrage: Navteq

Posted on Thursday, Mar 8th 2007

As I wrote the Navteq piece, it struck me that the entire address data and mapping services category is a great one for India, and ripe for a Concept Arbitrage.

A personal anecdote. Every time I visit India, and I go to visit relatives in North Calcutta, I wonder how on earth would I navigate to the right destinations! I insist that my mother comes with me, since she is my personal GPS on these trips. The cheuffer has also been with the family for a long time, so he knows the directions to many of these destinations. But not I. Certainly not I.

It reminds me of the 9th grade history lessons, where we studied ancient India, and how the wisdom of the sages were passed down via “Smriti” (memory) and “Sruti” (ears). Nothing got written until much later, and certainly there was no recording technology yet!

Not much has changed in India, when it comes to maps and directions, I am afraid! When I have traveled in the Himalayas, I have depended on the drivers to navigate the roads.

Thus, a company focused on building up the mapping data for India, I would think, will be a welcome addition.

There are a few cautionary factors, though. The car GPS market is not going to ramp up in India for a long time yet. Possibly, the same is true for the mobile phone GPS market, since the handset costs still need to remain pretty low. The market demand will take a much longer time to shape up, but then, so will the data gathering and organization.

I would peg this market to become significant about five years hence, and for a patient and diligent entrepreneur (and VC), building up the database in the meantime could be a worthwhile investment.

This segment is a part in the series : Concept Arbitrage

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There have been maps database providers for some time now. For example, check out the products on The reason they might not have been picked up is the absence of consumer products built to leverage the database. Though I must add that there are enterprise products built over the database and these products do sell.

Aseem Bajaj Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 11:20 AM PT

There is emerging activity in the area. One site to review is –

RB Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 11:40 AM PT

You are so correct. In the days to come there will be a surge of activities. Don’t be surprised to see Navtaq & TA in India!

Manoj Misra

Manoj Misra Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 8:09 AM PT

[…] I once talked about a Concept Arbitrage on Navteq? I hope some of you are going for […]

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