Business / Industries

Beidou navigates path to larger market share

By Wang Xiaodong in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-04 11:19

Navigation devices that can receive signals from the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, China's version of the global positioning system, are expected to expand its share significantly in the GPS-dominated market, said experts.

Cao Chong, director of the Advisory Center of China Association for Global Navigation Satellite Systems, told China Daily in an interview that navigation devices that can receive both GPS and Beidou signals will be the most popular.

Cao said such devices are likely to "take a majority share of the market if their prices are lowered following scale-production of chips for Beidou terminals".

People will favor such devices because they will offer more precise positioning services, he said, speaking on the sidelines of the third China Satellite Navigation Conference in Guangzhou.

Garnering more of the market is no easy task. Cao said there are 30 million GPS navigation devices in China.

In comparison, commercial use of Beidou navigation devices has just begun in China.

"Only several tens of thousands of Beidou navigation devices are in use on motor vehicles and ships," Cao said.

China launched the first Beidou satellite in 2000, and as of April, 13 satellites had been launched.

The country aims to build Beidou into a global satellite positioning and navigation system that can compete with GPS by 2020, with more than 30 satellites.

Though Beidou got off to a late start, navigation devices that can receive its signals carry high hopes.

Liu Jingnan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering who specializes in satellite surveying and mapping, said that navigation precision can increase by 20 percent for terminals compatible with both Beidou and GPS in the Asia-Pacific region, compared with navigators that have only GPS capability.

Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, said that with three more satellites to be launched, the Beidou system's performance in navigation, positioning and time services for customers in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to improve further.

Industry insiders said that navigation precision is what customers care most about, other than price.

"If the price of a portable navigation device that can receive both Beidou and GPS signals is similar to a GPS-only navigation device, I will certainly buy one for its precision," said Yao Peizheng, a Beijing resident, who drives to work every day.

Industry insiders also said that more mobile phones are expected to begin using chips that can receive Beidou signals.

Wang Wei, executive deputy general manager of Hwa Create Co, a Beijing company specializing in navigation products, said his company is working with a mobile phone manufacturer to make that possible.

"Hopefully, by the end of the year, the first mobile phone with Beidou navigation capabilities will appear on the market," he said.

The mobile phone producer, which Wang declined to identify, will include Beidou navigation capability in all its products in the future, he added.

The Beidou system is currently undergoing a trial operation that covers China and its surrounding areas.

Currently, it is used mostly by government departments to locate buses and ships, as well as for emergency rescues and disaster monitoring.

"By the end of this year, terminals compatible with Beidou will be installed in about 100,000 vehicles," said Li Jing, a senior engineer at the China Transport Telecommunications and Information Center.

Xin Dingding in Beijing contributed to this story.

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