Born Free

DM: So Peter, give us a quick intro to navmii please.

PA: Sure, we are mobile application publishers. navmii is a low-cost navigation app that costs a fraction of the cost of the best-known systems. navfree is a completely free version, using the OpenStream crowdsourced mapping system.

We have 3.6m users across both apps, 1.6m of whom are in the UK, and the vast majority of whom (3.3m) are using the free app. And we are growing at the rate of 100,000 new users per month. The reason navfree has so many users is because it’s the only free navigation system for the iPhone.

DM: And it’s iPhone only?

PA: It has all been iOS until now, but we are launching an Android version for Samsung handsets this month, and we are planning to roll out to all Android devices before Christmas.

DM: So how do you make money?

PA: The first way is advertising, reaching out with banner ads and push messages. We also sell virtual goods, such as speed camera and traffic information, and city guides, in the navfree store. The virtual goods are available in both the free and paid apps; the main differences between the two are that the paid app is ad-free, and uses professional map data, whereas the free version uses crowdsourced data, but in major territories, this is now just as good as the professional data. 

DM: And what makes the most money?

PA: Currently, it’s the virtual goods, but the ad revenues are growing 30 per cent month-on-month. By the beginning of next year, we expect the revenues to be split equally between virtual goods and advertising.

DM: And how is the map data stored?

PA: All the mapping data is on the device, so it’s a larger download initially, but then you don’t require a data connection when you’re using the app on the move, apart from the initial address look-up.

DM: And what about location-based ads and services?

PA: This is starting to happen. Every time we request an ad, we provide a GPS location, but not all providers can make use of it; the inventory is quite small. One thing we will be introducing towards the end of this year are audio ads – like a banner ad, but audio. So while the user is listening to the directions, we will create an audio ad, which could be location-based, to promote a nearby petrol station or other business. We think advertisers will like this.