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Alibaba

Alibaba’s AutoNavi becomes the first Chinese maps service to navigate a path to 100 million daily users

AutoNavi allows users to book taxi or car rides within the app from various ride-hailing companies, find available bicycles nearby to rent and offers content on tourist sites

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 1:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2018, 11:01pm

AutoNavi, Alibaba Group Holding’s maps app, said this week it crossed the 100 million daily users threshold on the first day of China’s Golden Week holiday, becoming the first maps service to reach such a milestone in China.

The company hit the 100 million user mark at close to 8pm on October 1, China’s National Day, the first day of a week-long holiday on the mainland when millions of people are travelling to meet family and friends.

AutoNavi, which started out as a simple maps and navigation service, was acquired by Alibaba in 2014 for US$1.5 billion and has since turned into something of a super app, a growing trend in China where an array of services can be accessed at the tap of a finger. AutoNavi allows users to book taxi or car rides within the app from various ride-hailing companies, find available bicycles nearby to rent and even offers content on nearby tourist attractions.

The 100 million daily active users (DAU) milestone means that AutoNavi has likely surpassed Baidu Maps, its biggest rival in China’s mapping and navigation industry. Data from Quest Mobile last year showed that Baidu Maps had 300 million monthly active users, although the company has not publicly announced its latest DAU numbers.

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Baidu did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent during the mainland holiday period on its user statistics for Baidu Maps.

“AutoNavi has become China’s largest data platform for [mobility], with an ecosystem covering China’s entire transport and mobility industry,” said Liu Zhenfei, president of Autonavi. “We are now an important infrastructure when it comes to the mobile internet.”

The company has also collaborated with Alibaba Cloud to create City Brain, an artificial intelligence-powered smart city programme that uses traffic data to help reduce congestion in cities. AutoNavi is also working with carmakers, such as Honda Motor, to develop new services for connected cars. The firm already partners with brands such as General Motors' Cadillac to provide custom-made navigation systems for its cars in China.

The company provides mapping data to Apple in China for its Apple Maps service, which is only available when Apple devices are located in China.

Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.