Huawei to rival Google with its own mapping tech

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August 17, 2019
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Huawei upcoming mapping service is apparently intended for software developers.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei is working on a “mapping service,” according to a report by state-run news outlet China Daily, seemingly designed to challenge Google Maps — but not the way you might expect. Huawei’s platform will help developers work on apps that offer navigation or ride-hailing services could use Huawei’s planned mapping technology instead of building their own.

Huawei’s new mapping service, called Map Kit, will offer developers a street navigation system they can use in their apps as well as a way to show users real-time traffic conditions. The exec also said that the Map Kit will support “augmented-reality mapping.” It’s unclear what that means. Perhaps it’s something similar to Google’s recently launched AR walking directions.

See Also: Google adds Live View, AR directions for Google Maps

The report offers a few clues as to where Huawei will be getting its mapping data. China Daily reports that Map Kit “will be connected to local mapping services,” and Huawei will partner with Yandex, a Russian internet service giant that already provides maps and offers a mapping services API. The director-general of a telecom industry association claims that Huawei has “telecom base stations” that can “offer to complement information to satellite positioning data.”

It must be noted that If Huawei is ultimately banned from using Google’s products, Map Kit can substitute mapping data for any third-party HarmonyOS apps reliant on Google Maps’ data, enabling a developer to switch from Google’s data to Huawei’s. This is important because it could sustain customers’ use of a significant portion of apps — over 50% of mobile apps rely on location or map capabilities, according to Zhang.

Huawei could also turn Map Kit into a consumer-facing app, which would open two important opportunities. In the medium term, Huawei could work with Chinese companies like Alibaba or Tencent to monetize the service with ads. Ad revenue from a maps app could be lucrative for Huawei, especially because it’s integrating AR features, which increases the number of in-app advertising mediums — a strategy employed by Google.

According to reports, Huawei’s Map Kit will be unveiled in October and will cover 150 “countries and regions,” and will be available in 40 languages.

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