Update 2: We don’t have Reliance GSM, so haven’t been able to try the service out. Following our request, BigMaps has shared the following eight screenshots of the WAP service:

Business Search:

menu-searchSearch

Search Results & Click to Call

Search Resultsresult-details

PointnFind

pointnfind

Friend Finder Result

friend-finder-result

Direction Search and Results

direction-inputsdirection-with-landmarks

directions

bigmaps-api

Update: So what’s the first thing one does when trying out a maps service? You tend to look for your home, office or a familiar location. This is what my home looks like on BIG Maps, and this on Google Maps. BigMaps has the building structures in almost right, but across the map, comparitively they have very low location and landmark information than Google Maps. That’s why the MapMaker will be needed. The API for BIGMaps is available here (via WATBlog), and via the API examples, you can try the maps.

Initialize Maps
Add Marker
Import GeoRSS (Map)

Screenshots: Zoomed In, Zoomed Out.

bigmaps-reliance-mobile
Earlier: So almost two years after the Reliance ADA Group began recruiting for its maps and local information focused BIGMaps service, the service has been launched on Reliance Communications GSM network.

Unfortunately, the service is available only on RWorld, and the company has said that mobile web access will only be allowed once public beta is opened on we. We tried accessing http://m.bigmaps.com and http://wap.bigmaps.com were asked for a username and password. Accessing http://bigmaps.com on the mobile, we hit the same spash screen that’s been visible on the web. We’ve requested BIG Maps COO Manav Sethi for some screencaps of the service, to get a sense of what is on offer, and will update when we have those.

Services; Friend Finder, PointnFind?

The BIGMaps service claims to allow business search, directions, events and movie information. It’s available on SMS as well, and no date has been announced for the Internet launch.

Interestingly, Krishna Durbha, Head- VAS, Reliance Communications has mentioned “PointnFind search and Friend finder” as services on offer. Friend Finder is a key component of Google Latitude, and the Whrrl service from Pelago that the Reliance ADA Group has invested in. We’re not sure of what PointnFind is, but Nokia has a Point&Find service which allows users to point at real life objects and view relevant data and services. This might be limited to promotions, and mobile enable advertising with content.

It’s mentioned that the company has a MapMaker tool ready once web access is enabled. BIGMaps claims to provide access to geo-coded yellow pages information with 20+ Million geo-coded buildings across India, and plans to partner with content owners and aggregators for local content, open its APIs for application development. The maps claim to offer 15 zoom levels and real time landmark based routing. Another part of the BIGMaps’ claimed comprehensive mix is local search in India.

Why Launch With RCOM?

So how many people do you know who use Reliance GSM? I think BIGMaps should not have launched with RCOM, a group company, and instead tried to set a precendent as an operator independent service by launching with a rival operator. For scale on the mobile BIG Maps will need to partner with and solicit the support of other telecom operators, and being seen as a Reliance Mobile service works against it. I’d be (pleasantly) surprised now if it receives much support from other telecom operators, particularly with Google Maps, NAVTEQ, MapMyIndia, SatNav and a few hundred other service providers to compete with.

However, in the long run the (perceived) growth of the Mobile Internet in India may help decide which product will win over consumers in India, but that’ll be a long wait.

Related:

— On Google Latitude Vs BIG Maps
— Google Files For Local Search And Mapping Patent In India