Nokia: We're basically the world's largest maps company

Never mind Google's offline maps and Apple's expected developments. Nokia wants to remind you that it's still the location king.

Nokia Web map
Nokia's Web map of the San Francisco Bay Area. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Nokia wants you to know that it's one of the biggest mapping companies you didn't know about. In fact, when you add its in-car, Web, and mobile presence together, it's pretty much king of the maps.

Nokia's mapping platform powers Yahoo services and increasingly gives Microsoft's Bing its cartographic data.

Thanks to its Navteq buy in 2007, Finland's finest claims an automotive presence in more than 80 percent of in-dash navigation modules and after-market devices.

"We're basically the world's largest mapping company," Hans Peter Brondmo, head of innovation for Nokia's Location and Commerce business, told CNET. Brondmo added that Nokia's maps platform enables 176 million devices in 196 countries and over 50 languages.

Fierce competition

Nokia's turn-by-turn navigation on an iPhone. Nokia
While Nokia may yet be "unrivaled" in automotive now, fierce competition lies on the road ahead. Google just announced offline maps for mobile that will surely score a point or two with Android phone users, who often use Google Maps' free built-in turn-by-turn voice directions in lieu of or in addition to other in-car navigation.

Depending on which research you look at, Android phones comprise roughly half of the U.S. smartphone market, which makes Google poised to challenge and possibly surpass Nokia down the line.

Nokia will also have to brace for a new mapping rival in Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to break with Google in the next version of its iOS device software and introduce its own mapping solution , quite possibly with turn-by-turn voice readouts.

Answer every 'where' question
At least outwardly, Nokia's Brondmo is taking the competition in stride, waiting to see what "interesting things" Apple and Google unveil.

Nokia hasn't been idle. In February, Nokia also announced its intention to partner with Groupon to provide greater context and flexibility around the maps it feeds out, particularly in mobile. In March, the company launched turn-by-turn walking directions optimized for devices with mobile browsers.

Integration with third-party partners like Yelp and Foursquare will help give users the answers they're looking for when they launch a map. According to Nokia's Brondmo, answering "every question with a 'where' in it" is the ultimate goal: where am I, where should I eat?

A lofty aspiration, for sure, but Nokia will have to pull out the big guns if it's to fight off Google and possibly Apple on mobile, car, and Web fronts.

 

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