Ovi Maps: Nokia makes walk and drive maps free
Nokia has decided that due to the free release of Google Navigation Maps, they will also make their new Ovi Maps application, incorporating walk and drive maps, available free of charge.
The announcement that Google would make their Google Maps Navigation application free for Android 2.0 and later handsets had a devastating effect on the market, sending share prices of the main players of the sector, Garmin and TomTom, into freefall.
Since then, everyone has been out developing their own offers to try and come up with the latest weapon. For Nokia the choice was clear: the new version of their Ovi Maps for Symbian, providing walk and drive maps to the user, would be free. This sees the end of the subscription model which was previously in effect.
This will provide mobile users with a navigation system that contains maps to 74 countries, in 46 languages, while traffic information will also be available in 10 countries. In addition to this, detailed maps of 180 countries will also be offered.
Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice-President at Nokia states that "Nokia is the only company with a mobile navigation service for both drivers and pedestrians that works across the world. Unlike the legacy car navigation manufacturers, we don't make you buy maps for different countries or regions even if you're only visiting for a few days. We offer both navigation and maps free of charge, with all the high-end functionality and features that people now expect."
Mobile GPS navigation for everyone
It seems that the desire to earn revenue from mobile navigation is no longer a concern, with this function now becoming the equivalent of a feature point to try and seduce consumers.
Nokia is already heavily implicated in the development of mobile GPS navigation with mobile devices ranging from entry level to top of the line phones being equipped with a GPS chip, their Maps software and control of the specialist mapping company Navteq.
Will mobile GPS navigation become a basic handset function in the same way as the camera and music players has? Anssi Vanoki believes so:
"This is a game changing move. By leveraging our NAVTEQ acquisition, and our context sensitive service offering, we can now put a complete navigation system in the palm of your hand, wherever in the world you are, whenever you need it - and at no extra cost," continued Anssi Vanjoki. "By adding cameras at no extra cost to our phones we quickly became the biggest camera manufacturer in the world. The aim of the new Ovi Maps is to enable us to do the same for navigation."
Other GPS navigation players on the market may now need to revise their subscription offers and the limited release of maps to try and combat the announcements made firstly by Google Maps Navigation and now Ovi Maps.
Nokia is also hoping that carriers will offer Ovi Maps for free, as this is a good method of pushing users to take up "unlimited" data plans, with Ovi Maps using a unique hybrid technology that is optimized for use on a mobile network. By using advanced vector graphics, plus an intelligent combination of pre-loaded and online maps, the new version of Ovi Maps uses a fraction of the bandwidth of the bulky bitmap technology used by most mobile map providers.
The Finnish giant is also eager for developers to jump onto their Ovi SDK Beta development kit so applications that benefit from location based elements may be created and distributed on Nokia’s Ovi Store.
The content made free by Nokia even extends to additional options offered in Ovi Maps like traffic info and the Lonely Planet and Michelin guides.
Ovi Maps is available on about a dozen Nokia mobiles including the Nokia N97 mini, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia E72. The free version of Ovi Maps will be shipped with new handsets from March 2010.
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