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Nokia woos disgruntled iOS users with rebranded maps service

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Nokia has rebranded its mapping systems, dubbing it HERE, and is looking to bring over disgruntled (and disorientated) iOS users with an HTML5 app, as well as others unsatisfied with Google's mapping system.

"We aren't reserving HERE just for Windows Phone," said Pino Bonetti, senior marketing manager for Nokia. "Instead, we are opening it up to all devices and operating systems to give everyone, with any type of device, the possibility to recognize and the ability to use the best location platform in the world. This openness is what sets HERE apart from other digital maps in the world."

It's not all smiles and sunshine for Apple users however. HERE for iOS only includes turn-by-turn navigation for walking trips, not driving. The app should be in Apple's store within the next few weeks, but it's not outside the realms of possibility that Apple may throw a spanner in the works over that timescale.

Android users are also in Nokia's sights. An Android HERE SDK should be out early next year, and Nokia is getting together with Mozilla to make sure that its forthcoming FirefoxOS has HERE support, and there will be some tweaks for Mozilla's browser users.

Nokia already provides the data behind Bing's mapping system, and the Finns have also recently won over Oracle and convinced Amazon to dump Google Maps. Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop said that usage of its map products is now 75 times higher than this time last year.

People using HERE could add their own data to the maps – once it had been checked for accuracy by Nokia – and share maps and locations with friends. The company is also increasing its mapping muscle with the acquisition of 3D mapping company Earthmine, which give it 3D maps in 31 countries, Nokia said.

The Finns are keeping some goodies back for Windows Phone 8 users, however, which is understandable since the company is going to live or die based on whether Redmond's smartphone system takes off or not. Its Nokia City Lens software, which give 3D representations of cities, will only be available to Lumia customers – at least at first.

Nokia has been at the mapping game for nearly a decade now, and the results have been good so far, the company said. It's looking to expand the customer base and move into areas such as automotive software as well. While Google still has the most popular mapping application, Nokia looks good to overtake Apple as the leading alternative.

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