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Amazon cosies up to Nokia for Google Maps alternative

To exit Google Maps, head southwest

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Amazon has unveiled a mapping API that offers an exit strategy from Google Maps for its developers. The new API is aimed at devs who want to incorporate mapping into apps on Amazon's pocket cash registers tablets such as the Kindle Fire, and uses Nokia's mapping services – Nokia Location Platform.

Although the ruthless retail giant wouldn't say what powers the Google Maps alternative, Nokia didn't need much persuasion to crow about a win. Nokia Location Platform is a wholesale offering based on the eye-watering €5.7bn ($8bn) acquisition of Navteq in 2007. Yahoo! maps uses Nokia's services, as does Bing Maps – although Bing draws in map data from lots of sources.

Nokia raised eyebrows when it was disclosed that it had licensed its map services to Microsoft for Windows Phone 8 - giving every WP licensee access to turn-by-turn navigation. Wasn't this a case of giving away the 'crown jewels', asked some pundits? Nokia Maps high quality vector maps were one of the few highlights of the dying days of Symbian – offering punters fast, friendly vector graphics that work offline. But Nokia clearly sees more value and differentiation in the applications built on top of the services, which rapidly become commoditised.

For Google, it's another example of the company neglecting rather than sweating its assets. Google acquired mapping company Where in 2004, the same year it acquired Keyhole Inc, which produced the amazing product later known as Google Earth. While Google now offers maps of the Moon, Mars, undersea terrain and the sky - it has failed to keep the product competitive for functions required by air-breathing earthlings.

Amazon uses a forked version of Google's Android OS for its Kindle Fire slablet, and wriggling out of the Chocolate Factory's shadow is essential if it wants to maintain its independence. It has already dumped Google Search.®

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