Tuesday, 08 October 2013 22:11

Nokia HERE to become much more than maps Featured


Nokia will be a very different company when it sells its handset business to Microsoft. For starters, 32,000 of its current 88,000 staff will move to Microsoft.

The sale removes some of the constraints that prevented it from leveraging mobility patents and technology left in the company – like the enormously successful HERE business.

Nokia EVP of Location and Commerce Michael Halbherr said, "Our strategy is straight, most companies out there don't have a map asset. We have become a neutral supplier to everybody who doesn't have their own map asset."

HERE is now free to compete with Google and Apple without forcing any hardware platform on industries. It is winning some powerful allies in Ford, BMW, Toyota, Audi, and Mitsubishi to name a few. Other users include GIS, Garmin, MiTAC (Magellan and Navman), Amazon, Oracle, SAP, Bing, Yahoo, and MapQuest. Its new cloud based model allows for constantly updated maps (only the segments that change instead of full maps or new locational information) when the device is near a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The core business is mobility

HERE has flagged that it wants more of the mapping market:

  • On mobile handsets (in addition to Windows Phone it now has Android, iOS, HTML5 and Firefox OS versions)
  • GPS (turn by turn voice guidance in 94 countries and turn by turn mapping in 196)
  • Sports/performance devices (like the Magellan Cyclo for bicycle riders)
  • Indoor mapping of shopping centres and even municipal buildings (49,000 buildings in 45 countries)

It recently launched HERE Transit with public transport information for more than 700 countries in 50 countries.

The next word is automotive.

HERE is a significant supplier to a large portion of the automotive industry with navigation maps, and more recently, points of interest, traffic updates and location services.

“A car won’t just use a map to know its own location, but the location of the objects around it. Nokia is already overlaying that map with virtual information, which can not only be accessed by apps but can projected into the field of vision through augmented reality technologies like Nokia’s City Lens. In short, maps are going to make the connected car go, and there are few companies that can deliver the map that Nokia can,” says Halbherr.

Nokia’s superiority in maps is a given. What it has to do is convince carmakers that it is now a more neutral and reliable provider of car automation and infotainment than Apple or Google – and Waze - are.

To Nokia’s advantage, many carmakers already use embedded Windows OS. It would be easy for Nokia to build on that expertise than a carmaker to change to a new OS.

Google has signed up a few carmakers and Apple is trying to make Siri the standard as an Eyes Free interface. There is a problem, however, with the car industry wanting to charge for its services - repeatedly via updates and added-value options - but both contenders favour using an advertising based models to share the spoils.

Nokia is seen as a more comfortable partner. It already has proven its partnership with maps and its technical expertise could help carmakers control the amount, scope and timing of technology instead of opening it up to extremely commercially driven alternatives.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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