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HERE Focuses On Urban Mobility With HERE WeGo

by Nitesh Patel | Jul 27, 2016

On 27th July 2016 mapping and location company, HERE, announced the evolution of its consumer facing map and navigation application into a new urban mobility companion, HERE WeGo, for both Android and iOS platforms. The exact details of the new apps functionality, which includes new transportation options such as cycle mode, taxi information (including ride-hailing), and car-sharing can be found in the press release here

HERE WeGo is a first step in HERE’s aim to focus on a comprehensive urban travel planning and guidance app, spanning traditional modes of transport, including on foot, bicycle, car, buses, and trains, in addition to emerging services, including car-sharing and ride-hailing. Users of HERE WeGo will be able to compare journey details, including total travel times and costs across transport options to simplify decision making for travelers. Starting with car sharing service, Car2Go, over time HERE aims to integrate salient travel-related content from a growing list of transport providers, including BlaBlaCar, DriveNow, Lyft and Uber, among others.

In my view HERE’s vision for HERE WeGo, which is to simplify travel guidance for consumers against an increasingly complex urban mobility landscape meets a growing consumer need, while also moving HERE in a similar direction to its major competitors Apple and Google. The long-tail of travel related applications installed on US Android smartphones demonstrates the fragmentation across a variety of point solutions, ranging from all-in one location apps (Google Maps), specific navigation apps, ride-hailing (Uber and Lyft), destination guides and reviews (Trip Advisor and Yelp), and others.

In order to succeed with its strategy HERE WeGo must accelerate its partnership program with providers of popular urban transport services, like Lyft and Uber, to provide a comprehensive travel planning and guidance solution to smartphone owners. Importantly, HERE must build consumer awareness in order to encourage iOS and Android owners to download and try HERE WeGo as an alternative travel application.

HERE remains confident in its ability to attract additional partners over time. While HERE WeGo significantly lags the user base scale of both Apple Maps and Google Maps, reaching 25 million monthly active users that currently use the HERE app will be of value to companies like BlaBlaCar, DriveNow, Lyft, and Uber that are seeking to drive incremental transaction growth.

Furthermore, HERE is well positioned to integrate with travel related services provided through its owners, for example, Mytaxi is owned by Daimler, while DriveNow is owned by BMW (through its JV with Sixt).  By partnering there will be an opportunity for HERE to earn referral fees for driving users to hail taxis or book cars or parking spaces though partners services. Moving forward, while HERE WeGo currently refers users to the sites of third-parties to complete transactions, overtime I expect there will be potential for taxis to be booked and paid for, or cars and parking spaces to be reserved directly from within the HERE WeGo app.

Over the past two years HERE has promoted its brand to consumers via its own app, but also softly through partnerships with device makers and internet companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Yahoo, among others. However, despite our assessment that HERE provides a leading location service, HERE remains a relatively unknown brand to consumers. In my view HERE must redouble its efforts to raise consumer awareness of HERE WeGo. I would like to see HERE spend more significantly on advertising and marketing HERE WeGo, looking at celebrity endorsements, product placement and boosting its name recognition around major sporting events and transportation hubs.  

HERE’s success in the consumer space has been held back by the dominance of Google, but also uncertainty about a likely path to monetization, given consumers’ low willingness to pay for maps and location information where there are many free alternatives. Therefore, achieving scale has long been a first step to creating transactional and advertising opportunities. With a revamped consumer application which provides comprehensive travel options, a partnership strategy to meet the evolving trends in consumer travel, and strong advertising and marketing, I am confident that over time HERE will be able to grow its base of partners, which in turn will lead to generation of more referral fees, share of transaction revenue, and advertising. 

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