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Nokia's free Ovi Maps scores a download every second

Finnish firm continues 2010 mojo reclaimation

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Nokia is on a roll after its stagnant 2009, with strong quarterly results and rising smartphone share. Now it says its recent decision to make its Ovi Maps navigation service entirely free, in an aggressive shot at Google, has already been fully justified, with downloads hitting over 1.4m in just a couple of weeks.

"We're averaging a download a second, 24 hours a day," crowed Anssi Vanjoki, executive VP in charge of the critical web services strategy, adding that downloads crossed the one million mark within a week of the launch date of January 21.

This might not generate the direct financial return Nokia shareholders may have wanted when the firm paid a huge $8.1bn for the Navteq mapping firm, but it endorses the strategy of leveraging Nokia's huge cellphone base to build massive support for its web services, which should then drive revenues such as advertising, as well as increased phone uptake.

Vanjoki enlarged on this. "Within a matter of days there is an installed base of more than one million active users all potentially hungry for new and innovative location aware apps. For the operators too, there is a growing opportunity to sell more data plans and a complete navigation package to existing and new customers."

As of January 31, the top five countries downloading the new free version of Ovi Maps were China, Italy, UK, Germany and Spain, said the company. The top five most popular devices installing the download were the 5800 XpressMusic, the N97 Mini and full-grown N97 smartphones, the 5230 (the world's cheapest Symbian handset) and the E72 enterprise device.

The new version of Ovi Maps enables users to store entire maps and location data on their handset for free via the mobile network, Wi-Fi or sideloaded from a PC, so they do not have to be connected to the internet for basic navigation services. Ovi Maps covers more than 180 countries and includes turn-by-turn navigation for drivers and pedestrians across 74 countries, in 46 languages. It also bundles free travel guides from Lonely Planet and Michelin.

Copyright © 2010, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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