Nokia Offers Ovi Maps for Free
The Finnish giant today unveiled a new version of its turn-by-turn mapping application with several significant new features. Ovi Maps now includes turn-by-turn voice directions for 74 countries, in 46 languages, and traffic information for over 10 countries, as well as maps of more than 180 countries.
"Why have multiple devices that work in only one country or region? Put it all together, make it free, make it global, and you almost double the potential size of the mobile navigation market," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president of Nokia, in a statement. "Nokia is the only company with a mobile navigation service for both drivers and pedestrians that works across the world." (See Nokia Offers Free Navigation.)
Nokia is using mapping know-how it acquired from its purchase of NAVTEQ in 2009 to improve its mobile mapping capabilities, meaning that real-time maps will now render much faster on its phones. Making extensive mapping capabilities free -- previously, users only got very basic functionality gratis -- puts Ovi into much more direct competition with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s mobile mapping apps.
Barclays Capital, however, put out a note today, suggesting that this move will also make life much more difficult for makers of personal navigation devices (PNDs), such as Garmin Ltd. (Nasdaq: GRMN) and TomTom International BV .
Wireless equipment analyst Amir Rozwadowski says that Nokia's map move could add to ongoing concerns about the viability of PNDs as standalone devices now that so much of that functionality is built into smartphones.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung