In an effort to create China’s most comprehensive street-view map ever, Tencent (HKG:0700), Asia’s largest Internet company, is rolling out camera cars to visually capture unmapped territories in the mainland.
Launched about a year ago, Tencent’s street view now covers more than 100 cities and numerous sights and landmarks. As part of its latest expansion, Tencent has dispatched Volkswagen Polos carrying up to $90,000 worth of cameras, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.
Although Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps dominates the mobile-app market, the company is not permitted to roll out its iconic street-view service in China, allowing Tencent to fill the void.
According to media reports, Tencent's engineers have developed new ways -- such as mounting cameras on boats -- to collect images in remote areas. The new methods have helped developers gather unique panoramic views of the country, including magnificent images of Mount Everest, the Tumen River on the border with Russia and North Korea, and vistas of the South China Sea, the Post reported.
While Tencent is yet to respond to concerns related to potential national security issues, the company reportedly said that it would blur out human faces and car number plates, something that Google Maps also does to protect privacy.
Although Google will not be a competitor for Tencent in China, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), the country’s largest Internet search engine, is expected to be Tencent’s main rival. Baidu launched Total View, its own street-view service, in August, and its mobile maps are used by more than 200 million users in China.