Alibaba mapping unit AutoNavi offers self-guided audio tour amid expansion spree

A digital map eyes the content monetization business.

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash.

Alibaba-owned AutoNavi has started providing audio guides at tourist sites in the Chinese online mapping app’s latest bid to expand its service offerings, local tech media 36Kr reported.

Designed to offer self-guided audio tours for Chinese tourists in always crowded scenic spots, the new function will be triggered either by users’ location or recommend contents based on their interests, providing cultural background information in those sites.

The feature will soon roll out in more than 500 tourist destinations including the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace before the upcoming China’s National Day holiday – the seven-day “golden week” break – which will start from October 1.

The function appears to be part of Alibaba’s efforts to turn AutoNavi into a one-stop mobility aggregation platform, which could be plugged into the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse’s online and offline business ecosystem.

For instance, Ele.me and Koubei, the food delivery and restaurant finder services both owned by Alibaba, were integrated into Autonavi. When Autonavi users search for a restaurant on the app, they will be able to place food delivery orders or book tables directly from AutoNavi, though the back-end services will be provided by Ele.me and Koubei respectively.

Last year, AutoNavi also introduced an aggregated ride-hailing service on its premise, allowing its users to book rides from various ride-hailers.

36Kr has also earned that AutoNavi will create an open platform for all audio content creators in the future, while profits will be shared between the platform and the creators.

Acquired by Alibaba in 2014 in a USD 1.5 billion deal, AutoNavi is one of China’s most well-known mapping apps, hitting 100 million daily users in October 2018.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.