Nokia announced today that it’s launching the HERE mapping service/brand/app that aims to challenge Apple and Google as the mapping solution on devices. Citing 20 years of mapping experience Nokia feels now is the time to open up its core mapping technology to others.
We know Nokia isn’t doing well. Their phones haven’t been hits and several R&D centers are cutting people. So, what’s solution? Play to a core strength:
“People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia’s location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world,’ said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. ‘Additionally, with HERE we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service.”
From: Nokia redefines digital map landscape by introducing HERE as new brand for its location and mapping service » Nokia – Press
The iOS app due in the “coming weeks” is going to be an HTML5-powered app that might also see Mozilla helping out with. Nokia is working with the Mozilla team to bring HERE to Firefox OS in 2013. For Android phones, it looks like it will be 2013 before we might see those apps. Nokia is letting other folks worry about making those apps.
Now, here’s the question that the NYT posed to CEO Stephen Elop—why this, why now? If mapping is so crucial and a special asset in Nokia’s tech stable, why let others in on the game?
Stephen Elop, chief executive of Nokia, said in an interview that in order to ensure that its mapping platform stays competitive, it needs lots of users. The more people who look up directions or search for locations on its maps, the smarter the system gets. And Nokia can still build exclusive location features into its Lumia phones, he said.
‘For the location platform to be at the highest quality, one needs scale, and you need as many different people contributing as possible,’ Mr. Elop said. ‘Of course, Nokia will build apps, some of them unique to Lumia devices, that gain a competitive advantage for Nokia.’
From: Nokia to Offer Its Maps for iPhones and Android Phones – NYTimes.com
And that’s really it. You can’t make maps better alone. Google knows this, Apple got hit upside the head with this, so Nokia is tapping into probably the deepest mobile mapping resource to make an app that could be great…or not. We won’t know for a while will we?
Nokia says that the app will have voice-guided walking and transit directions (with is lacking in Apple Maps) as well as offline capabilities (which I think is great when traveling and abroad and trying to save data, or just have bad connections (like the mountains). As for the touch of the cool, Nokia will have 3D mapping as well…after they scoop up earthmine.
To advance the 3D capabilities of HERE, Nokia announced the planned acquisition of Berkeley, Calif. company earthmine. The company’s reality capture and processing technologies will become integral parts of HERE’s 3D map making capabilities.
So another mapping player steps in. Will Nokia succeed where Apple has failed? Could Google Maps for iOS push HERE into the second or third choice of mapping apps?
I guess we’ll know in a few weeks.