Navibration ICO: What is Blockchain for in Audio Guides Market?


The author of the column is Alexander Savinkin, our investment expert and co-founder of Howtotoken. It’s #icobusted, where we scan the market for the newest and most remarkable upcoming ICOs and analyze them in-depth. Here, we will try to break everything down to see if there are any long-term market prospects for the product if, and only if, that product can be delivered.

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The Navibration Experience is something like a social network to find audio guides for the places of interest with the marketplace for those guides. It seems like something new, but is this profitable?


The Navibration Experience (that is what the new product based on Navibration platform is called) is a navigation app with built-in user-created audio guides, in which all the participants will be rewarded based on their contributions to the platform.

The core platform, Navibration, offers an interesting way to navigate without any need to look at a map: you set the destination and start your journey. When it is not clear where to go, just hold your smartphone and start turning around. The device will vibrate when you point at the right direction. This app is designed mostly for touristic walkabouts around a city (it’s impossible to use it for driving navigation). We downloaded the app and tried it – and it didn’t work yet. Maybe we just aren’t traveling enough. However, this concept (to orient by a vibration)  raises questions itself – a smartphone always being held in an arm is rather attractive for robbers.

What seems to us more important that with Navibration Experience users can create their own tours around the cities and cash in on it. The process of creating a tour is divided into five steps: the creation of an itinerary, writing the content of the route, translation of the content (when necessary), recording audio guides, and the edition of the final audio and setting the route for sale on the platform.

Other users will review the content at each of these steps, gaining a reward in Navicoins for both creation and moderation. The blockchain technology this platform uses intends to keep a record of all the participants of a guide creation and share reward among them when a tour is purchased. However this solution doesn’t seem completely wrong as the distribution of the reward is a good smart-contract use case. Although the blockchain is not a necessary feature here, the same functionality could be achieved with traditional database algorithms and an in-app virtual currency.

More far-reaching plans include the development of several wearable devices: a smart watch that’s compatible with the Navibration platform and some other, aimed mostly at visually impaired or blind people.


The global tourism market is extremely big, and it accounts for $8.27 trillion, or 10.4% of total global GDP. It affects almost all other industries and supports 9.9% of global employment. In regards to mobile apps related to travelling, they account for 3.2% of the apps available on Google Play, being in the Top-10 app categories (according to Statistica data), proving their popularity.

There is a number of apps concentrating exactly on walking guided tours, and some of them even allow individuals to create their own tours, so the project is going to enter market with some already existing competitors. One of the biggest is izi.Travel, an app with over 3 million downloads, which offers guided tours in more than 2,000 cities and most of the content is created by the community. It was released in 2012, showing rapid growth in the number of users. All of the content on the platform is free, and during the period from 2011 to 2016 it has attracted about $23 million of investment. This service, with its big marketing budgets and successful product, seems to be a tough competitor.

But if Navibration gives free access to the tours for the first time and pays creators out of its own pocket, creators may possibly switch to Navibration, making quality content. And then, with the help of a marketing campaign, we can expect growth in the number of users (to be honest, this is just us thinking out loud and not Navibration’s exact plans).

The transparency, provided by the blockchain to distribute tour fees between the creators and the platform,  could add up to Navibration’s competitive advantage.

The project’s team states multiple product benefits, ranging from blockchain technology use and ending with its patented navigation system. Nevertheless, the advantages of these features are questionable as there are already other apps offering guided tours (also created by the users), and some of the features, such as the content being narrated by historical figures, might seem curious but are not likely to add much profit.

Navibration may be considered a helpful tool for blind people, however, this market already has several solutions both for blind people and those with auditory impairments (for example, Google Maps supports audio guidance).

It is possible to assess the revenue for the potential close competitor Tripscout. (Tripscout, another tour app with over 10,000 downloads on Google Play, offers guided tours in more than 100 cities, all of which are created by local experts.)  We may assume that number of downloads for the App Store is comparable to Google Pay, so it gives us about 20,000 downloads in total. Tripscout`s route price is  $0.99. Let’s make the optimistic assumption that 90% of downloaders pay for the routes. And another optimistic assumption that 12 paid routes per person annually is an average number. So the maximum possible Tripscout annual revenue is 20,000 x 0.9 x 12 x $0.99 = about $200,000.

Additionally, we can compare the growth rate of Navibration users. Based on Google Play data (App Store doesn’t show number of downloads), Navibration gained about 400 new users during the last 12 months, while Tripscout had 10,000 and Geotourist had 1,315 . This certainly doesn’t boost confidence about Navibration’s perspectives.


Pros and cons:

(+) Transparent earning system for route creators
(+) Already have an app
(+) Travelling solution for the visually impaired
(-) There is a segment leader with an outstanding market share, a free-of-charge service, and VC investments
(-) Multiple competitors

The market and product analysis leads us to a conclusion that it is rather unlikely that the Navibration Experience will have significant hype within the travel industry: the numbers, the competition, and the product itself just doesn’t seem to be promising enough. The rewards for contributing to the creation of a tour may be attractive, but travelers are the ones responsible for the project’s revenue in the first place, and it is questionable whether they will be interested in this project instead of izi.Travel. We say that you should probably just wait for the signs of a rising demand after the service has launched.

Useful resources:

  1. Travel and Tourism global impact 2018 by World travel and tourism council
  2. Tourism research by Max Roser
  3. Global Tourism Industry Market Analysis & Opportunity Outlook 2025 by Research Nester
  4. Google Play app categories 2018
  5. Walking Tour Apps by Uncubed
  6. Travel frequency of US travelers by Statistica
  7. izi.Travel creator’s interview by TravelHubr

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