A Google Maps competitor in India's tech revolution

Amid increasingly shifting geopolitical realities, it is crucial for India to be self-reliant in satellite navigation today. (Image: Pixabay)
Amid increasingly shifting geopolitical realities, it is crucial for India to be self-reliant in satellite navigation today. (Image: Pixabay)


  • A homegrown, secure GPS technology helps the economy in a significant way

In 1999, Pakistani forces covertly occupied positions in Kargil, prompting India to seek GPS data for the region from the US government, which at that time used to maintain the global positioning system (GPS). 

However, the US refusal to share crucial GPS information underscored India's vulnerability and sparked its resolve to develop an indigenous satellite navigation system, a need further emphasized by the Kargil conflict.

Amid increasingly shifting geopolitical realities, it is crucial for India to be self-reliant in satellite navigation today.

The importance of satellite navigation extends beyond military applications; it's crucial for economic vitality, supporting everything from tracking enemy movements to guiding precision munitions.

ISRO's NavIC - Answer to GPS

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) recently developed NavIC, a regional navigation system designed to provide precise coverage over India, distinguishing itself from the globally operated GPS by the US. 

NavIC, or Navigation with Indian Constellation, requires devices equipped with compatible microchips to interpret signals from Indian satellites, promising enhanced accuracy and reliability for the region.

Navigating beyond Google: The significance of NavIC

Despite Google Maps' global dominance, concerns over data sharing with competitors like Google highlight the need for an independent navigation technology. 

Naturally, car manufacturers are wary of sharing too much data with Google, because the latter is their competitor in autonomous driving.

Similarly, Apple would not use Google Maps data to power it's iOS mapping product. Amazon also directly competes with Google in the advertising space. So it would not like to share information with a competitor.

Third, companies in the customer experience businesses are reluctant to share data with Google. Especially since Google competes with them in many different fields. For example, fintech company such as PhonePe would prefer not to share data with the parent company of its competitor - Google Pay.

NavIC's integration into the Indian tech ecosystem, supported by a collaboration with Isro, offers a compelling alternative. 

That makes an independent company with technology similar to GPS extremely relevant in the Indian tech ecosystem. This company has tied up with Isro to incorporate the NavIC technology in Indian tech ecosystem.

Since the company does not directly compete with its clients in other businesses, not just Indian but even US companies are more willing to incorporate the software in their devices.

Further, in September 2023, India made it mandatory for both smartphone and automakers to use NavIC by December 2025.

Smartphone maker Apple has already agreed to incorporate NavIC, in its latest iPhone 15 smartphones.

Plus, NavIC could present new use cases for navigation-based gaming apps.

It can also help auto insurance companies to track vehicles they have mortgaged.

Advertising companies could develop better location-sensitive advertisements.

The travel and tourism industry can create location-based use cases by making the tour more informative and interactive.

NavIC will also help India's drone industry grow and become more efficient, especially in drone delivery businesses.

Age of AI

Satellite navigation systems like NavIC are not just about mapping. They are also about leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to offer users more intelligent inputs.

AI-enabled systems in vehicles, for instance, are able to anticipate and make suggestions for optimal routes and destinations. AI-enabled systems can also be used to find the best gas prices and restaurants in the area.

Overall, AI is transforming the way we use satellite navigation systems. And the Indian company that has the first mover advantage in offering the Indian satellite navigation system NavIC is all set to profit immensely from India's AI revolution.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. It is not a stock recommendation and should not be treated as such.

This article is syndicated from Equitymaster.com

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