The first reports on Reliance’s BIG Maps came out around late 2007, while the official word went out sometime in May 2008. At that time we had reported on bits regarding the team and their plans and how it might take a good two years before the product is out live. The last we saw of it Big Maps was used for a movie promotion by BIG Pictures. While the service hasn’t gone live on the web yet, BIG Maps is now available on RCom’s GSM service and they have also released its API for web publishers to integrate it with their website.
According to CXOToday, the BIGMaps service will allow subscribers to search across business, directions, events and movies by organizing local information on a pan-India basis. It is currently available on mobile phones through SMS, WAP and downloads. Built on open source technologies, the service will also be made available through the Web in the near future.
This is BIG news in the Location Based Services space, which has seen some activity in the past 1 year. From what we had recorded earlier, Reliance has very big team that has been working for over 30 months on this project. It has also been investing heavily into Fibre Optic connectivity which is sort of the backbone of the geo coded data of nearly 20 million Buildings in India that they claim to have.
The location based services niche has the eye of many people as a high potential space in digital media. MapMyIndia which solved one of the biggest hurdles of LBS by bringing in pretty accurate maps to the system, went mobile in May last year. It released a GPS solution for navigation and was also looking at location based mobile advertising. MTNL now launched its Location based VAS on GSM making us question the need for GSM based solutions that MMI was providing. Pradeep also suggested in his post that LBS might really benefit from 3G which is very much in line with how BIG Maps is placing itself as a provider of a rich mobile-web experience for local search and navigation.
With web usage going real time by the day, and usage becoming location independent (anywhere access), it only present a lot more scope for Location Based Services to grow. We documented some of the possible value addition of LBS as:
- Real Time Fleet and Asset Management
- Friend Finder
- Location Based Advertisement
- Location Based Chatting Service
Coming back to BIG Maps, while the web enabled service still hasn’t gone live, we believe that with the release of its API and mobile version, the launch isn’t very far. One can probably expect an early 2010 release in my mind. In the meanwhile it might be actively setting up tie-ups with local content aggregators. A detailed documentation of their API is available here.