Nokia entered the professional navigation software race—and yes, there was one going on. The major competitors were Google, Garmin and TomTom; all were able to develop advanced GPS navigation software and became leaders in the market. But today, the Finnish mobile phone maker referred to its new GPS software as “game-changing,” causing the competition to take a second look.
Nokia is basically giving away its mapping software on 10 of its smartphones—the service is completely free. Nokia says it had made available through its website a new, free version of its Ovi Maps software which includes turn-by-turn instructions for 74 countries, with vocal prompts in 46 language, plus additional maps for another 106 countries. The GPS mapping software has been one of the most popular applications for smartphones and Nokia’s choice to turn it into a giveaway may boost its handset sales, but still not completely rid the company of debt.
The New York Times reports that Nokia’s stock had hardly changed after it made the announcement this morning and the company’s share of the smartphone market has slipped to 38 percent from 53 percent two years earlier. The move to free navigation announced today may not give Nokia a giant boost in sales, but it will get more consumers and competitors to think twice about the company—and that’s probably what they’re going for.
“By adding cameras at no extra cost to our phones we quickly became the biggest camera manufacturer in the world,” says Anssi Vanjoki, a Nokia executive vice president, in a statement. “The aim of the new Ovi Maps is to enable us to do the same for navigation.”
Nokia says its software giveaway has the potential to dramatically increase the number of people worldwide using GPS satellite navigation on cell phones to 50 million from the current 23 million.
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