Nokia's quest to find new smartphone partners now that it's shed its handset division and Samsung's struggle to create an identity unique from Android have made the pair unlikely allies. Nokia's HERE unit said on Friday that Samsung would use its maps and location services on both its Tizen-powered smart devices and on its Android Gear line of devices.
The Samsung Corp. Gear S will be the first to feature an Android version of HERE's Navigator app for turn-by-turn walking and public transport directions. Nokia says HERE will be the exclusive mapping provider for all Samsung Gear devices via a licensing agreement.
HERE has also launched a self-titled Tizen app in beta for all Samsung Galaxy devices that lets users plan and calculate walking or public transit routes on their phones then send them to their smartwatch.
Why this matters
As a standalone company, free from handsets, HERE's goal is now to "deliver fresh maps, platform services and location cloud experiences to as many people and businesses as possible, independent of the device and operating system they are using," Sean Fernback, senior VP of everyday mobility for HERE, said in a statement, noting that partnering with Samsung on Tizen is a huge step in that direction.
Samsung will be an important partner for Nokia, but it also speaks to the fact that the Nokia company still sees its future in smartphones. It was reported that part of the reason for the recent departure of CEO Michael Halbherr was disagreement over whether HERE's focus should be solely on the automotive and enterprise space or on its own consumer products. With him leaving this month, it looks the compromise is consumer products, but through partners.
That said, connected cars will be a huge focus too. Nokia HERE, which generates around 8% of the standalone Nokia's revenues, is already a dominant player in the connected car space, powering about 80% of car navigation systems through partners. The company also recently committed $100 million to the connected car sector to invest in innovative companies to bolster its business there.
This is an important partnership for Samsung as well, as the company has long been beholden to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and the Android OS. It's shot to the top of the pack because of it, but recently it has struggled to differentiate its devices from the plethora of other Android phone makers. With stiffer competition and a foray into wearables like connected watches, it's looking for an identity -- and services -- of its own.
- HERE to Buy Medio Systems
- Nokia Pumps $100M into Connected Cars
- Samsung Delays Tizen Smartphone Launch
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading