On 15th of August, the Independence day of India, TPL Trakker released a newspaper advertisement countrywide that said, “Kashmir Is Ours.” With that strong emotional tagline, the company launched its TPL Maps which claims to be offering much more features in the coming months than what Google provides today.
At the moment, Google and TPL Maps are no different but in the coming months, company plans extensive customization and localization for which is a team of almost 100 professionals is working and adding as much point of interests (POIs) as possible.
Although, the company doesn’t like to be called an immediate rival to Google maps but practically it starts with the notion of giving more facilities than what Google offers today through its apps. TPL’s maps are based on their native API which has been developed using the Microsoft’s platform.
Adeel Hashmi, Head of Maps at TPL Trekker indicated that our focus is on the customized solutions for Pakistan that no other map is currently offering.
While briefing a small group of digital publishers in Lahore, Adeel said, “Unlike Google, TPL Maps are providing the addresses of locations including the houses, shops and business places for local people to use it more meaningfully.”
So far, the company has put, 300 KMs of roads in 100 cities and nearly 1.7 million addresses (POIs) with a plan to increase that number to 5 million by the end of 2016.
Adeel told that his company has invested over PKR 1 bn and it plans to go ahead with it but working alone wouldn’t be a game changer. He, therefore, urged everyone to come and present the idea and become a partner in this journey.
“We want people to come and join us. Whoever has any good idea or running a company which is somehow linked with location or maps, we are ready to support and invest. Our focus is to expand the ecosystem to a point where TPL Maps could serve everyone”, Adeel added.
Where to find TPL Maps?
The web interface of maps can be found on tplmaps.com, whereas, the company has developed mobile apps “TPL Maps” for both Android and iOS. As we were told that the database is being populated, and it will take some time before every location gets tagged. However, we found that some major landmarks of likes PC Hotel Lahore were missing which we hope to find soon in the database.
How different TPL Maps is from Google?
For a company that sells its products across the country through a shop network that include thousands of points, TPL plans to give not only the location of those shops on the map but also it can provide a visual tour of any particular store which would even show the items actually placed inside.
“We want to empower the management for taking a timely decision about productive and nonproductive areas while sitting in their head offices without the need of third-party surveys. We can even provide the street views for giving a better idea about the vicinity”. Adeel explained.
Similarly, the government can make use of these digital maps for planning mega projects like CPEC more efficiently by having a look at the actual view of the location from anywhere.
TPL maps can give a virtual tour of any site to the educational institution. A student sitting in Karachi can understand well the geography and history by having a virtual look at Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort or even the Faisal Mosque and relying on only the textbook and only a small picture inside would not be the only solution.
Moreover, with the penetration of 3G and 4G, e-commerce industry is expected to rise exponentially. However, visiting a shop and seeing the product there is still a preferred choice for a consumer today.
“Our virtual tours can give you a parallel to real tour experience on your device and even show the products on the rack which a customer can purchase online for which we are also providing the payment solutions to both businesses and consumers,” Adeel recapitulated.
Voice command is not an alien feature to many who are into Google OK and Siri. On smartphones, the voice command will easily tell you the direction and the route to any particular location. Currently, English and Urdu languages are being integrated into the test phase with more regional languages to be a part of the system in the coming months.
However, the feature would not be helpful for nearly 70% feature phone users in Pakistan, particularly, the Taxi drivers, Pizza, and e-commerce delivery boys, who wish to reach the address at the earliest and through a route which has less traffic on it. TPL Maps gives an option of voice guidance in such a case through a call center. However, Adeel was not sure about the charges mechanism of the call to the concerned call center.
TPL has recently bought two startups which are working on big data and voice command service for the parent company.
The company is also integrating regional news feature in its mobile app so that users could get to know about local updates in any particular city they are visiting.
Where is the Revenue Model?
Adeel believes that branding and advertising are the areas where TPL Maps will be looking for the revenues. His company has entered into partnerships with Telenor and Mobilink, and he is further looking for an association with Google for getting help through its non-map solutions and promotion of its Android app on the Play store which indicates his plans also to bank on Google Ad revenue.
“If we develop our own ad network, it would be cumbersome and costly whereas, integrating Google Ad Network would be much feasible for us,” Adeel hoped.
TPL plans to put logos, brand names and signboards of businesses on their maps. Similarly, they will charge the corporate sector for customization in mapping solutions.
“Regarding our virtual tours of sites, we will give them freely to the government schools, but it will be a paid solution for the private schools,” Adeel stated.
He explained that we want to reach to a level where we could tell the demographics of a particular site to a company for making a better business plan. For example, a bank could get the actual insight about the number of men and women in any particular area before opening a branch, and even we can confirm how many people in the area already have a bank account. Cellular companies can also figure out how many customers they are serving in any particular area through an individual cell site and is it viable for them to install or relocate a cell site?