GPS navigation market booms, showcasing Russian mapping software

GPS navigation is swelling in popularity among Russian drivers, but it still has plenty of headroom to grow. The booming market is providing an upside for Russian map software developers, as well as solving headaches in traffic jams.

Although it’s only a year and a half old in Russia, GPS navigation is one of the fastest-growing segments of the country’s consumer market. What’s next? Market players say in a couple of years, it may become Europe’s biggest, and Ilya Gureev, head of NaviCom, is expecting continued strong growth.

“This year we are expecting the market to triple compared to 2007.I have no doubt that the market will continue its robust growth next year, although it’s hard to predict how fast.”

The most popular GPS devices among Russians are made by US and Dutch companies. But when it comes to maps and software, Andrey Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of Navigation systems, says local developers are Number One.

“Take traffic jams as an example. Not a single foreign software maker offers traffic updates. Most local players do. When it comes to maps, Russian cartographers provide more precise, detailed maps.”

While most drivers in Russia are men, GPS-device makers don’t shrug off their potential female clients, with special designs and user-friendly interface.  Ilya Gureev says men like them too.

“Men are always denying that they need directions and may not know their way around. Women, on the other hand, are eager to admit that they may need help getting from point A to point B. Men buy GPS navigation devices for their spouses or girlfriends, but inevitably end up using them themselves.”

By 2012, GPS navigation market is expected to more than double, to about 110 million units worldwide.