Agis believes that navigation apps need not be expensive nor for drivers only
$2.60 voice GPS app is cheapest in town Agis hopes to appeal to tourists and non-drivers -- PHOTO: TAN CHONG YAW

Home-grown mapping company Agis, or Asia GIS, has turned up the heat in the smartphone navigation market. It slashed the price of its NAVFone Singapore GPS app (right) on

Nov 18 last year, from US$9.99 to US$1.99 (S$2.60).

Now, its nearest rival in price on the Apple App Store costs US$13 more.

Its chief marketing officer, Mr Carey Wee, said: 'Agis wants to break the perception that navigation apps are expensive and only for drivers.

'We believe that navigation apps are for all smartphone users. We want our app to be in the hands of students and non-drivers.'

Describing the price cut as a 'repricing strategy' to expand the market, he added: 'Even tourists in Singapore will find it useful. They won't chalk up hefty data roaming charges using the app.'

Users like the app and its new price. They have given it a rating of four stars out of five and put this app and a US$2.99 Agis app, which adds Malaysian maps, atop the list of most popular Singapore navigation apps.

App Annie, an app tracking website, places the Singapore app fairly consistently among the top five in the local navigation category in terms of downloads and revenue.

Mr Wee said downloads have multiplied tenfold and revenue has doubled since the price change.

The next cheapest navigation app in the local Apple App Store is the Papago! Singapore+Malaysia (Lite), developed in Taiwan, which costs US$14.99. It faces competition from both Agis apps.

Other navigation apps cost between US$24.99 and US$69.99.

All these apps offer turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation using global positioning system (GPS) satellite signals. They can be used without an Internet connection.

In the United States, the free Google Maps app for Android phones is souped up with this add-on but the devices have to be linked to a network to work. This add-on is not available in Singapore.

For iPhone and iPad owners, the Agis app provides, hands down, the cheapest satellite navigation method available. A printed street directory costs nearly five times more and in-car GPS devices cost more than $100.

When it was launched on May 14, 2010, the app rocketed to the top of the local navigation app charts. Its US$9.99 price undercut its rivals, all of which cost at least twice as much.

Continual updating and upgrading keeps the app popular, said Mr Wee. He figures there are more than 250,000 users, including Samsung Android handset owners who have the app pre-installed in their phones.

Last November, Agis added a 'double tap share' feature, which generates a location link one can send by e-mail or SMS. If the recipient's device has the app installed, the message will launch the app to show the location. If not, the location will be shown on Google Maps instead.

'It's good for anything from sending an SOS message to a car mechanic to sharing the location of a great chicken rice stall,' Mr Wee said.