Nokia targets location based services with Ovi Maps update

Nokia targets location based services with Ovi Maps     update
Nokia's move to update its navigation services is the first sign that its vision for location based services is becoming a reality, UK MD Mark Loughran told Mobile.

Loughran was speaking on the day the manufacturer updated its Ovi Maps service (21 January), making it free and expanding its capabilities.

The latest version of Ovi Maps includes high-end car and pedestrian navigation features, such as turn-by-turn voice guidance for 74 countries, in 46 languages; traffic information for more than 10 countries; as well as detailed maps for more than 180 countries.

Loughran was adamant that the revamp of its location-based services is not a case of the manufacturer playing catch up with competitors such as Google, which already has a well-established free mapping service.

He said: 'A couple of years ago, we said that location based services was where we were going to be. We bought Navteq and have turned it into the service we have today. I think our strategy has been clear.

'It sets the bar at a very different level. Our strategy is about people, places and contextually aware services. This is the next step.'

Contrary to speculation, Loughran said there are no plans to open up Ovi to other manufacturers. 'There were loads of rumours, but 99% were incorrect,' he said.

He added: 'Expanding location based services further is a question we have been asked. It's about integrating services, such as Lonely Planet.'

In addition to the Ovi updates, the manufacturer is aiming to make things easier for developers.

'They can download and use APIs, so it [Ovi] is not constrained by what Nokia is doing - it's also open to Symbian devices so developers have got on that,' Loughran said. He added: 'I think what we have today is a large scale, relevant platform. We are making sure development APIs and kits are available and as a result they [developers] will gravitate towards it.'

Nokia has updated Ovi Maps to offer a 'premium' service, which integrates social networking sites and can be used for free. 'There is also the ability to post your whereabouts on Facebook with a single touch,' Loughran added.

According to Loughran, there will be two phases of marketing. 'Firstly, we kept this quiet before we launched it. We have planned PR but we also have posters and print [two full page ads in the nationals on 22 January].'

He added: 'We have also been talking to operators about how we are going to advertise this - I expect a lot of digital. You have two jobs. One is awareness, and the second is getting them [consumers] to use it.'

Manufacturers and operators have historically clashed over services such as music and Skype. Last year, Nokia famously conflicted with networks over its decision to include Skype on some handsets. The argument centres around ownership of the customer.

However, Loughran is doubtful of an operator clash in this instance. He said: 'In this world of mobiles and different players, we have to understand that different services are right for different consumers.

'Operators will benefit from music and other services that are available on our devices - and competitor devices - as people will get involved in data tariffs.'
Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today

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