Nokia’s current mapping product, Nokia Maps, has been criticised for being inferior to Google Maps, but now that the company has one of the world’s largest map makers, Navteq, under its belt, things are likely to change.
Pekka Pohjakallio, vice president of suites management and marketing, services and software at Nokia, tells Mobile on a visit to the Finnish headquarters that navigation, along with music and games, is the major focus in the services arena for the company.
‘What Navteq brings to Nokia is good maps. Making maps digital from scratch is very expensive,' he says. ‘People, places and media – that’s what Nokia is about. People communicate around media and the special thing about mobile is that you know where you are.'
The improved maps from Navteq are just the starting point for Nokia. Pohjakallio says: ‘Navteq will bring us the better maps and we'll build value-added services on top of those.’
Money from maps
Nokia offers free maps to customers, either pre-loaded onto the handsets or available to download from the internet. The manufacturer's plan is to make money from services built on top of the maps.
Navigation is the most obvious mapping service. Pohjakallio says: ‘You can buy a navigation licence for a week for France if you are going there on holiday and then you can have a longer term licence for your home country.’
There is also pedestrian navigation, which Pohjakallio emphasises is very different to in-car navigation. He says: ‘You would take a different route if you were walking. You can walk through parks and you don’t have to worry about one-way streets. If you were to get the same routes walking as you did in car, you would probably end up walking an extra kilometre.’
Real-time traffic information is another example of monetising maps. Nokia already offers this service for big European cities. ‘We have traffic information for all the major European countries – the countries with the worst traffic jams. Finland is not one of them yet; traffic jams here in Helsinki last no more than 15 minutes,’ Pohjakallio says.
Nokia also offers over 3,000 city guides, constantly adding new locations and providers. The latest addition is Lonely Planet, which agreed a partnership with Nokia last month to offer city guides, recommendations and itineraries initially for 100 destinations, with more to follow. But customers can also choose to buy mobile holiday guides written by Berlitz and Insight Guides.
Another way of monetising mapping is through a point of interest search. Hotel or restaurant chains that want to make sure their locations are marked on the maps are ready to pay for the privilege.
Pohjakallio says: ‘It’s normal marketing practice and works exactly the same way as Google Maps does.’
Nokia is also looking to bring more advanced functions to the mapping applications, such as the ability to share points of interest. For example, if a friend is going to visit a place where you have already been and they ask for the best restaurants or museums, you could send them straight to the map on their handset, Pohjakallio explains.
Integrating location-based services and social networking is also on Nokia’s agenda.
Ultimately, Nokia is hoping to incorporate all of its mobile services into one offering under the Ovi brand. This hasn’t happened yet, because many of the services are still under development and Nokia hopes to bring out the more advanced versions and gather a user base for the services before renaming them.
Pohjakallio says: ‘Ovi is the brand name for consumer services. The service is still Nokia Maps but this will change. ‘All Nokia’s consumer services will become “on Ovi”. They have had their own names to get the services going, but we will soon change them to Ovi.’
Some Ovi services have been launched already, but the idea is to have all Nokia’s services working together, with users able to share them. Geo-tagging, where people take a picture and upload it onto the map to be shared with others, would be a good example of integrating and sharing services.
GPS is becoming an increasingly common feature in mobiles and Nokia is looking to ship 40 million GPS-enabled handsets by the end of the year. All Nokia’s Nseries phones since the N78, launched in February this year, have been equipped with the satellite system, and all the manufacturer's Eseries phones now have the capability.
GPS has also been extended to some mid-range phones to accelerate the adoption of navigation services beyond early adopters with savvy phones.
Pohjakallio says: ‘Some services are early adopter services, but maps aren’t. There is a large group of people already that want to solve this [navigation] problem daily.’
Nokia’s biggest navigation devices have been the N95 and the 6210, which have been installed with a dedicated navigation button. ‘Usage of GPS on these devices has been very high,’ Pohjakallio says.
The price of GPS components has fallen as the market has increased, making the handsets more affordable. The size of the module and the amount of battery it eats up has also been reduced. ‘The whole package – size, price, and battery consumption – has come down and it’s time to take it to mass market,’ Pohjakallio says.
Although the market is full of handsets with GPS, this doesn’t mean that everyone with a sat nav-enabled phone is using the capability. Many don’t even know their phone has this function.
Nokia has its own research program, Smartphones 360, which tracks the way people use their phones. The manufacturer, however, has still not tracked GPS and navigation, so Nokia is still unaware of the user base.
‘It’s difficult to get people to realise what they can do with their mobiles,’ Pohjakallio admits.
Nokia has launched a global marketing campaign to make people associate navigation and maps with Nokia, and to educate consumers about the functions of the handsets. As customer awareness grows, usage will also increase.
Nokia Music set for PC upgrade
Nokia is also making a big push in music. As well as last week’s announcement of the Comes With Music launch, the manufacturer is making improvements to its Music Store.
It's planning to launch an iTunes-style client, which allows users to buy and manage their music on the PC.
Nokia decided it needed to develop new software after feedback from customers said they found updating their music collections on their mobiles time consuming and difficult, and preferred to do this on a PC.