HopStop Keeps its Edge in Pedestrian Navigation Despite Competition

12/21/11Follow @jpruth

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navigating the transit systems on his own in Boston and later New York. Meyer was hired as CEO in 2009 after serving as vice president and general manager for Quigo Technologies, which was acquired by AOL.

In addition to transit data, HopStop also estimates taxi fares and shows users multiple methods to get from point A-to-point B, from trolleys to buses and subways. “People are very particular,” Meyers says. “Some days they want to take the train, some days they want to take the bus, some people want to walk more.”

HopStop offers the service for free to users. Meyer says the highly localized use of HopStop lets advertisers geographically target consumers. Users voluntarily share their locations, as well as where they plan to go, with HopStop. “That’s very powerful information and very indicative of user intent,” Meyer says. “Almost every ad that we serve is geo-targeted in one form or another.” HopStop’s advertisers include Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, Dunkin’ Donuts, Gilt Groupe, and Citibank.

Meyer says HopStop also plans to pursue business-to-business opportunities that would put its technology in other companies’ apps or on their websites. That could include digital media companies, directories, location-based services, and search engine companies. He says those businesses-to-business models could include ad revenue sharing and technology licensing. Meyer believes HopStop can provide such pedestrian-based services to companies alongside Google’s driving directions. “Google doesn’t provide them the ability to geo-target ads against those searches,” he says.

HopStop provides transit information for more than 150 cities, which include 50 major metropolitan markets in the Unites States, a dozen in Canada, and overseas destinations such as London, Paris, and Moscow. Meyer says the company expands to new territory as it establishes relationships to receive data from local transit authorities. “We refresh our system based on changes we make during the day,” Meyer says. “We take scheduled [transit] outages and advisories into account. We are starting to factor in real-time outages and alerts.”

HopStop is not fussy about how it receives such data, Meyer says, which he believes helps the company maintain its edge in the face of competition from Google. He says while Google requires transit data to be submitted in a standardized format, HopStop does not. “We take the data in any form they want to give it to us,” he says, “whether it’s normalized or not normalized.”

AOL’s MapQuest and Microsoft’s Bing have also rolled out beta versions of pedestrian navigation on their websites, but Meyer says they have yet to achieve HopStop’s level of market penetration.

HopStop, which makes its app available for iPhones, Android, and BlackBerry devices, plans to release a Windows Phone 7 app before the year ends and an iPad app shortly thereafter. “Our audience is clearly stating they want our service when they are on the go,” Meyer says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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