Nokia has said it plans to add a mapping capability to its Ovi online service that will synchronize with Nokia smartphones. With the mapping service, users will be able to plan a route using the Web portal and have that route information automatically synced with their mobile phone when it connects to the Internet. The company also plans to introduce a 2.0 version of its Nokia Maps subscription service which will offer routing information for walkers and bike riders (not just cars) and include realtime traffic information. Nokia Maps 2.0 will begin rolling out in May, with the service debuting in different regions as map information becomes available.
The new mapping capabilities are tied to Nokia’s pending acquisition of digital mapping company Navteq, which still has to be approved by the European Commission. Nokia is confident the deal will go through.
Adding improved mapping capabilities and navigation services to Nokia mobile devices (a growing number of which are equipped with GPS receivers) helps Nokia compete with not only stand-alone GPS device manufacturers like Garmin and TomTom, but also with Internet-based mapping services offered by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo—most of which can be accessed via Web-capable mobile phones. Nokia hopes that by tightly integrating its services with its devices, it will create a best-of-class solutions Nokia phone owners will preferentially use in favor of competing services…thereby bolstering Nokia’s efforts to built up its digital services business rather than being tied to the design and manufacture of hardware.
Speaking of hardware, Nokia has also launched a free recycling program for unwanted mobile phones. Owners of older Nokia phones can drop off the unneeded handsets at Nokia’s Chicago or New York flagship stores, or print a free shipping label that can be used to send an unneeded handset to Nokia for recycling. Nokia asks that batteries be completely discharged before shipping, and needs users to sign a statement saying they’re returning the phone for recycling and give up ownership of the handset. But other than that, the recycling service is free, and a far better alternative to throwing old phones into the trash.