NavFree, the free Sat-Nav solution for iPhone (and iPad) from Navmii, has seen more than half a million downloads in its first month and is growing at a rate of 10,000 new users per day. That’s not too shabby considering that it’s a UK & Republic of Ireland-only offering, although perhaps not so surprising considering the app’s free-ness and the expense of some of its rivals.
More impressive, however, is the way in which users are embracing NavFree’s do-it-yourself model. The app is powered by the the ‘Wikipedia of maps’ OpenStreetMap (OSM) project, meaning that, where necessary, users are required to fill in any missing gaps in the maps themselves, literally. That’s something that I’ve been pretty skeptical of. I mean, you get what you pay for, right?
But actually, the model seems to be working: Users of NavFree have contributed 70,000 map updates to the OpenStreetMaps data already, likely the most updates in one month that OSM has had. Furthermore, Navmii thinks that if the trend continues, OSM will offer the most accurate and up to date maps in the UK/Ireland available. With Google and Nokia offering free Sat-Nav, alongside a number of OSM-powered solutions, it doesn’t look so good for expensive incumbents like TomTom or Garmin, unless of course they embrace OSM too.
Peter Atalla, CEO of Navmii comments “In less than one month, NavFree has changed expectations of free apps on the iPhone. What’s more, the user community has embraced NavFree: we have received more than 70,000 updates to the maps and routes since launch, which is more than 80 per hour, day and night. This community based ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach to digital mapping could soon overtake commercial map providers in both the quality of the data and the speed of updates.”
Next up for NavFree is support for US and Europe sometime this month, along with a version for Android planned for December.