Nokia switches direction and gives away maps
Anything Google can do...
Nokia has started giving away Ovi Maps including turn-by-turn directions, removing one more source of income in the ongoing battle to out-freebie Google.
Ovi Maps runs on Nokia's Symbian-based handsets, and synchronises with the online version for when you want to use a bigger screen. Until this morning, lost punters could have expected to pay for the software and regional maps, but now it's being given away. It includes maps for 180 countries and spoken turn-by-turn directions for 74 of them - in 46 different languages.
"Why have multiple devices that work in only one country or region? Put it all together, make it free, make it global and you almost double the potential size of the mobile navigation market", says the canned quote from Nokia's Executive Vice President. The more cynical might point out that there's little point in doubling one's market if one reduces the revenue generated by that market to zero, but that's nit picking.
If Google reckons it can hand out free directional mapping, making money from contextual advertising, then Nokia reckons it can too, and Nokia is prepared to put its product on the line to prove it.
Regardless of whether Nokia manages to turn a profit, the real losers will be Tom Tom and its ilk, who are going to find it increasingly hard to differentiate their offerings and get customers to pay for them.
Those of us who don't want to pay for directions will appreciate having more options, as each one further reduces the chances of having to interact with local people. ®
Tom tom only has itself to blame
We don't object to paying for the map that's bundled with the device when we first buy it, or for buying extra maps that cover areas we didn't pay for with the original purchase.
But charging full price for an annual update that doesn't update more than a tiny percentage of the roads really isn't on, as is refusing to implement new services on old maps even though the old maps cover the intended route perfectly well.
Its high time that the law required FREE annual updates, or at least limited their cost to a sensible 5% per annum of the original price.
Better still, the law should require compulsory adoption of open source maps and require the local authorities to keep them up to date.
It's about the hardware
Surely Nokia's banking on people being more likely to buy Nokia S60 handsets if they will be able to get free navigation software. So although they lose in SW revenue, they may gain in HW sales since it makes the S60 phones a better package
Limited device support, though
Compatible devices: Nokia X6, Nokia N97 mini, E72, E55, E52, Nokia 6730 classic, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia 5800 Xpressmusic, Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition, Nokia 5230.
No charge for maps
Nokia has never charged for maps or search results. Only the navigation and extra services was not free.
"if Nokia made a dedicated satnav"
A dedicated satnav with a guaranteed Free Map Upgrades For Life would be a sure winner.