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Free mobe map app 'shut down by' Nokia

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Popular freebie cross-platform mobe navigation app Nav4All has been "shut down by" Nokia's mapping subsidiary, according to the company. The move is bound to be seen as linked to Nokia's decision to offer free mapping to owners of its smartphones last week.

"It is with the deepest regret that we hereby notify you that the global navigation of Nav4All will go offline in 3 days [as of 31 Jan]," wrote Nav4All CEO Hennie Koerkamp in a letter to customers last week. He added:

The reason for the same is that the data licence agreement with Navteq (a 100% Nokia subsidiary) was not extended, in a totally unexpected manner. It is not possible to implement data from another supplier in our Nav4All systems within the short term. The Nav4All navigation system was developed for Navteq data. Nav4All has therefore been constrained to stop.

We greatly regret the fact that we have to suspend the operation of our service.

Nav4All was a free app that could run on almost all phones - with different levels of usefulness depending on hardware - though the company had planned to start charging at some point. Koerkamp claimed more than 27 million users as of last week, and the app offered almost global mapping coverage.

Historically, detailed mapping held onboard a device has been paid content. The most common way to avoid paying for maps has been to use online ones, as for example in Google's maps service, but in a mobile device this can mean hefty data charges; and poor performance too if the local network is of low quality.

Nokia's purchase of Navteq for $8.1bn in 2007 at first seemed to do nothing to change this picture. But the mobe colossus, on the back foot in the battle against the iPhone and facing fresh opposition from Google, has now moved to use its map database as a way to defend its smartphones rather than a revenue source. Nokia has just started offering free maps to its users, while in other smartphones this generally remains something a user must pay extra for.

Of course, those who chose to buy phones from the Finnish firm's rivals could still get Navteq maps for free - if not perhaps forever - via Nav4All. Until Sunday, that is.

The other main commercial, global map database is run by Tele Atlas, now in the hands of sat nav maker TomTom. ®

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