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Nokia stuffs Groupon deals into Maps app

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Nokia's desperate search for something to plug the hole in its sinking ship has hit upon the idea of stuffing Groupon voucher deals into its Maps application.

The ailing phone firm has been jamming Groupon Now! deals into maps on its Lumia phones in the US as it struggles to compete with Google's feature-filled Android apps.

"Nokia Maps' mission has always been to make you feel like a local anywhere, every day," Pino Bonetti posted on the Nokia blog. "True to this motto, and after working for the past few months with Groupon, Nokia Maps now shows offers you can enjoy here and now."

The map update is also giving users their "highly requested" route planner, directions by foot, car or public transport between two points. The directions can be pinned onto the phones start screen or shared with friends, Bonetti said.

Nokia's native Maps application has always been a strong feature of its phones, so focusing some attention on it is a smart plan, but Groupon may not be the sexiest of partner services at the moment. Since the coupon site went public, its business model and earnings have come under fierce scrutiny and have often been found wanting, while a steady trickle of small businesses using the firm have complained that the deals cost them far more than they gained.

Part of Nokia's strategy to revive its fortunes has been a focus on Windows phones, and Nokia's integration with Microsoft's OS will deepen with Windows 8 – when the Finnish firm's location platform will be part of the operating system instead of laying on top.

Nokia chief Stephen Elop told reporters in Chicago that Nokia Maps was critical to the company's plans.

"It is to our benefit to ensure that many different companies use this, and there will be companies taking advantage of the platform who may compete with other elements of Nokia," Elop said, according to Reuters. "But that has to be okay. It has to be, you have to think that way. The competition ... is not with other device manufacturers, it's with Google." ®

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