Pushing location beyond Nokia

Nov 26 2012, 04:47 IST
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SummaryThe Finnish mobile device giant is taking the $6-billion location-based service opportunity very seriously. It has created a new service brand and plans to deliver its maps and location services across more screens and operating systems.

Just as search engines like Google and Bing redefined the ‘what’ category and Facebook redefined the ‘who’ category, Nokia is attempting to redefine the ‘where’ category to help people discover the world around them, courtesy its mapping technology. The Finnish handset maker, which claims to be the largest mapping company in the world—it has maps for more than 190 countries and more than 100 of these maps can be navigated—and gets one billion search queries annually, plans to deliver its maps and location services across more screens and operating systems. That is, beyond cars and beyond Nokia devices.

In this direction, Nokia has launched a maps app for Apple devices—iPhone, iPad as well as iPod Touch. Available for free on iTunes, the app is compatible with devices running on iOS 4.3 or later versions. It will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions.

Nokia has also demonstrated an Android operating system-based app and announced plans for the availability of tools for Android device makers in early 2013. This is aimed at enabling partners to create location-based apps for Android devices with Nokia’s location and mapping content. The new mapping products have been branded as a new service called HERE. That’s not all: Nokia is also partnering Mozilla to bring new location experiences to the Firefox operating system. Nokia plans to debut a mobile Web version of HERE Maps for the new Firefox OS next year.

In simple terms, HERE is Nokia’s new brand for its location and mapping service for expanding its location based services beyond Symbian and Windows Phone to multiple operating systems, including iOS, Android and the nascent Firefox OS. Consulting firm Strategy Analytics puts Nokia in pole position for the $6 billion location based service opportunity. It feels that maximising both advertising and premium revenue opportunities from location based applications will require scale across a large base of mobile users.

“Establishing a new brand is the right move for Nokia in the map and location business,” says Crawford Del Prete, executive vice-president and head of worldwide research at IDC. “We believe mapping and location will be increasingly important to developing next generation devices and services across a wide array of segments.” Analysts estimate that Nokia gets about 1 billion euros per year from its mapping technology business.

Nokia has played a key role in the evolution of mobile phones, stresses Vipul Mehrotra, director & head of smart devices at

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