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Nokia Unveils Cross-Platform Maps Product

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 10:54am
Andrew Berg

In what could be taken as a shot across Apple's bow, Nokia on Tuesday took the wraps off a dramatic rebranding and rethinking of its mapping product. The new cross-platform, cloud-based offering is called 'HERE' and could appeal to those iOS users looking for an alternative to iOS 6's much-maligned Apple Maps application.

Nokia said it aims to "inspire a new generation of location services and devices," with its new offering, which can be accessed by browser from almost any smarpthone, tablet or PC.

"People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia's location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world," said Stephen Elop, Nokia's president and CEO, in a statement.

The new product comes just on the heels of Apple's disappointing foray into the mobile maps space. With iOS 6, Apple nixed the native Google Maps application from its devices, replacing it with Apple Maps. Consumers and reviewers alike have since panned Apple's offering, saying the maps are innaccurate, and also lack favored Google Maps features, such as transit directions. Apple has since apologized for the miscue and has actually recommended other third-party apps to its users, such as Navigon and social mapping app Waze.

Nokia said it will launch a maps application for iOS under the HERE brand. Based on HTML5, the app will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions. The application is scheduled to be available for free from Apple's App Store in the coming weeks. Until then, iOS users can access HERE via their browsers and add an icon to their homescreen for easier access to the service.

Nokia also announced a strategic partnership with Mozilla to bring new location experiences to the Firefox OS. Nokia said it plans to debut a mobile Web version of HERE Maps for the new Firefox OS next year.

On the Android side, Nokia announced plans for the availability of a HERE SDK for Android OEMs in early 2013 aimed at enabling partners to create location-based applications for Android devices with Nokia's content.

Today's announcement comes as Nokia continues to struggle for ground in the competitive high-end smartphone market. Just last month, Nokia announced third quarter net losses of $1.2 billion on $9.5 billion in total revenue, which was down 19 percent year over year.

Sales of the company's Lumia smartphones dropped slightly to 2.9 million from 4 million sequentially, which could be attributed to consumers awaiting the launch of Nokia's new Windows 8-based Lumia smartphones, which launched this month. 

Overall, Nokia said it sold 6.9 million smartphones, including Symbian devices, with an average selling price of $210.

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