Finnish startup IndoorAtlas, which develops indoor mapping technology that uses magnetic positioning, has received a $10 million investment from Baidu, China’s top search company. The two companies also announced that they have signed an agreement which will make Baidu the only user of IndoorAtlas’ technology in China.
IndoorAtlas will used the capital for research and development, as well as engineering and business development in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. The company’s technology uses the earth’s geomagnetic field to find locations inside a building and says it can achieve accuracy within two meters.
In a statement, IndoorAtlas founder and CEO Janne Haverinen said that the partnership with Baidu gives the company access to over 1.34 billion new subscribers.
In turn, Baidu will be able to integrate IndoorAtlas’ tech into its existing location-based services and mapping products, said Baidu vice president Liu Jun. “IndoorAtlas’ intellectual property portfolio and global geographical coverage will be instrumental in helping us at Baidu build out our LBS platform for local merchants in China and abroad.”
Baidu will demonstrate an IndoorAtlas product customized for its Baidu Maps app at the Baidu World conference, which will be held in Beijing on Sept. 3.
This is the latest in several steps Baidu has taken to ramp up its mobile strategy. While it is China’s search leader and considered one of the top three Internet companies in the country (along with Alibaba and Tencent), Baidu has struggled to compete with its rivals for China’s rapidly growing base of mobile users. But Baidu’s mobile business has been gaining ground. It Q2 2014 results showed that revenue grew 59 percent year over year, with mobile accounting for over 30 percent of total revenue.
Other notable investments that Chinese Internet companies have made in mapping or navigation technology companies include Alibaba’s $1.5 billion purchase of AutoNavi in April and Tencent’s purchase of a 11.3 percent stake in mapping company NavInfo for $187 million in May.