Available for Android, iOS and BlackBerry, Belarus-based Maps.me has built a solid fanbase around the world, notching up seven million downloads en-route. The app is available for free, with restricted functions, and a paid upgrade unlocks extra features such as offline search.
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is one of the four main global mapping platforms, along with Google, TomTom and Nokia’s HERE. As with other OSM navigation apps, Maps.me allows full offline access for countries and regions thanks to downloadable maps.
Founded in 1998, Mail.ru operates a range of online services, including social networks, instant messaging, online gaming, a browser and a search engine.
Though Mail.ru has largely focused on the Russian market to date, it has been pushing into North America too, launching as My.com in the US last year, with free email and IM apps subsidized by mobile gaming. And this is a major factor in its acquisition of Maps.me too, as the app already claims a large user-base in the States with north of one million users.
There has been a flurry of activity in the mapping realm of late. Fellow European navigation startup Skobbler was acquired earlier this year by US giant Telenav, which led to Telenav’s Scout apps switching entirely to OpenStreetMap. And Nokia is pushing out its own HERE maps platform too, launching on Android last month, with iOS on the cards for later this year.
Mail.ru buying Maps.me is notable for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it represents a Russian juggernaut looking to expand its horizons beyond its native shores, but on the other it’s also a smaller European startup joining forces with a bigger European company to take on the lucrative US market.