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    added by rammer on 30.11.09 @ 20:50

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The times, they are, as the bard quoth, a changin' - Google Maps Navigation now provides free turn by turn voice
instructions on Android-powered phones in the USA, and it's only a matter of time before the licensing restrictions and map rollouts get sorted for real time navigation in many other countries. And all for free. But this still leaves a window of opportunity for Nokia to step in and change this landscape in an even bigger way - right now. And sell a truckload of phones in the process, worldwide. Read on for my thoughts.

As I understand it, Google Maps has been expressly forbidden, by the Map license owners, to provide real time navigation in its free Maps application for mobile phones. However, Google has been building up its own map sources over the years and has now felt confident enough in these to drop licensed maps in the USA and use its own, meaning that it can add as much functionality as it likes. In this case, starting with real time voice navigation on all Android-powered smartphones.

It's very likely that, over the next year, this functionality will spread to half a dozen other major countries (the hacks are here already), along with a number of other smartphone platforms. Which means that, by this time next year, Nokia's Ovi Maps might find itself with a direct competitor which is absolutely free. And which, if we're all honest, has much better underlying sources of points of interest and is much better at finding things in the real world.

Free!?With all the negative publicity Nokia and Symbian have been getting in the last few months, here's my (100% serious) proposal to Nokia:

Make Ovi Maps Navigation free. Right now. To all.

In other words, head off the competition before it even gets started. And set in motion the huge PR plus that would be fixing in peoples' minds that every Nokia phone with GPS also comes with completely free sat-nav. Yes, there would be a small hit financially, in that Nokia would lose a year or so's worth of individual Navigation subscriptions. But I'd warrant that the profit from the extra handset sales, not to mention the free publicity and ongoing goodwill from the public would more than offset this - maybe by a factor of ten.

There would still be extra premium services and local guides that Nokia could sell off the back of Ovi Maps - I'm only advocating that the high profile 'killer' function be free.

Nokia managed to turn its phones into the most popular music players and cameras in the world, not to mention seeing off wristwatches and other electronics in the process. I suggest that it's time that an Ovi Maps manager took a single, easy decision now and in one fell swoop, in a matter of seconds, made Nokia the biggest sat-nav maker in the world by a big margin.

"Your phone has Ovi Maps? It now has free sat-nav as well"

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 30 November 2009

Yup why not. As I understand the 6710 navigator already comes with lifetime free navigation. Comes with maps, if not for all, at least for a few high end devices, certainly for the flagship! Stop pussying around n do it now please, tq..
neilhoskins
You're right, of course, but it won't happen. They'll just let it wither and die.
joeyfallon
Seems logical to me
Unregistered
If Nokia's idea is to use more open source - i think the head of Symbian was saying any new app should try to use 50% open source/free material to get started on. Then why not start integrating OpenStreetMap into OVI maps or opening up the POI info that nokia already holds. In other words, don't just make OVI maps free but make the info free too? Of course Navteq costs nokia billions of pounds - it would be a major hit - but thats the price of being a services based company i guess...
lookatbowen
well said Steve. Nokia should hire you guys for your knowledge and foresight. That is a genius idea. Surprise the enemy before they surprise you.
snoFlake
Absolutely right Steve, the PR value after their recent trip-ups would almost be worth it alone but and you've nailed it here 1st mover advantage would be with them and rather than being Google's punch bag why not set the agenda themselves?

Saw another article recommending this some time back following Google's announcement, they should open source the whole thing so that they can open out the PoI's etc and have developers spin Apps off it. I know they are moving some way to do this already but within their "transforming into a service provider" framework, unfortunately their resources or expertise seem insufficient for this task and by the time they implement a service we are either bored waiting for it or somebody else has beaten them to it with a better written product or it's just plain shoddy (OVI store).

Whether Nokia are going to have the courage to write down their Navteq investment I don't know but their move to a services company is unraveling a bit because of their inertia - the same problems are bedeviling their OS development. In the middle of it all they seem to have forgotten that they're a phone maker/developer and have lost the playing field defining lead there. The fact they seem to be a bit surprised at the interest in the N900 and yet are content with the N97 as a flagship seems to show how far from the reality of the market place senior leaders in Nokia are.

I hope Nokia management in their ivory towers (rotten foundations mind you) have the breadth of vision to listen to your advice Steve and at least make some advantage out of this and get back in the game. But if they were happy with the state of SF^1 in 2009 I somehow doubt it - do senior management actually use their own products and compare them to other makes??
dougalzene
free navigation has long been on my wishlist. speedcams and live traffic data, too? i wouldn't mind occasionally paying for them but free is better!
Unregistered
Functional GPS would need to be a prerequisite on any phone they claim to have this proposed feature. My plan for Nokia would be build phones that work first then worry about features.

Reminds me of Tomtom actually. A market lead withering away due to to forgetting core business and overloading with pointless features.
theshocker
This is something I always thought Nokia should've done, even back in the N95 days. But given the recent buzz around Google Maps Navigation, it makes more sense now than it ever did. But knowing Nokia I am not holding my breath (didn't they give away a few PEDESTRIAN navigation licenses after Google Maps Navigation was announced?), and I'd be very surprised (and delighted of course) if they did.

Another problem would be what to do with all the people that already paid for licenses? Give them their money back? I don't think any company, let alone Nokia, would do something like that.
mbrett
I agree this would steal the momentum of Google Maps, but Nokia do still have the major advantage for many, in the form of the option to pre-install maps, so that you aren't so reliant on map download.

In my opinion Nokia need to find a middle ground between these free map OTA maps applications and other apps like Tom Tom and Garmin etc, whic are still paid for. The maps application is in midst of a reasonable degree of development with the pretty S60v5 hopefully gettign a new beta release soon. Someone does need to pay the development guy's sallaries.

Rather than looking solely at the cost of the navigation licence maybe we also need to pursuade Nokia to invest in some functionality improvements in the form of improved Search capabilities to at least equal Google Maps and improved POI management and access again to at least equal that of Google Maps.

To be honest the price of Navigation was reduced in the last year, although it would be nice to reduce this further as it's always nice to have money in your pocket rather than someone else's.

For me it's more of a decission of exceed or compete. There are many things in the world where you can get free version or paid for versions and normally the paid for versions out-perform the free versions. Do users want an app that competes with Google Maps or Tom Tom, or do we want a middle ground with added paid for functionality which enables it to compete with Tom Tom and similar.

I'm happy to pay for things like Speed Camera warning and Traffic and speed limit nifo as long as it's accurate and ideally as real time as possible.
eluxzen
I agree with the points in this article. In my opinion Nokia has 1 choice or no-choice so to say: get Ovi Maps free as soon as possible or get lost in the competition. See how TomTom and Garmin were hit on the the stock exchanges when Google only announced their intention for step-by-step navigation on Android!

And now this feature is only available on MotoDroid or what it's called. Everyone knows: this gonna get offered world wide and for every Android phone. So Nokia should get a step ahead of Google and start offering it right away. The other non-option is to wait and sell as many Ovi Maps licences as possible only to get beaten out of competition as soon as Google comes to town. Besides Google Navigation on Android phones there is the thread of Google Navigation on other phones!

Even I use Google Maps now on my Nokia 5800 to show me the route I have to take. My co-driver will navigate through it. Or I use it to plot the last route stept. Ovi Maps works better but I'm not gonna pay €58 a year to get some directions! Within 3 years I could have bought a TomTom for that price and have a bigger screen to see the route on. The only licence I bought is walking routes, as I walk a lot. But that was prices about €8 a year.

Hope Nokia gets free too, or I wait for Google Navigation to come to town!
djmuzi
For N-Series Devices it MUST be free! I payed 400 EUR for my N86. For this price the phone should include full licence.

But for now I chosed Nokia because of the free offline maps, Navigation would be nice thing and I would consider buying another Nokia in the future smile because for the future I tend to Android....
Unregistered
Steve, Nokia has been doing this quite a while already, with devices which comes with the lifetime navi. Newest one, for example: 5800 NAVI and cost? Little over 300€! That is a bargain! Considering that you have to pay almost double to get a new android device, which NOW doesn't even have free NAVI.

Pointless rant Steve from you wink
micdabe
On my N97 Ovi Maps navigation and every other navigation software is totally unuseful due to the worst GPS reception seen in dozen of phones I owned. To me Ovi Maps worth nothing even it wil be free. The GPS reception on N97 make the phone itself worth NOTHING. How did they do that? It's simply UNBELIEVABLE! They should set the phone itself free, not only the maps!
Unregistered
For me a dedicated satnav cannot be replaced by a compromised phone sat-nav, and the dedicated devices I use all have free navigation once I have purchased the device. Nokia maps as it stands cannot compete with the free dedicated nav, so it is not even a consideration for me when purchasing a phone.

As for google mobile maps and their ridiculous tile downloads, they are even worse. Surely if my phone is capable of caching the tile, then it should be allowed to.
Unregistered
Note that in the US, Amazon is offering the 5800 with a lifetime subscription to Ovi Maps navigation functionality ...
http://www.amazon.com/Nokia-Navigati...6&sr=8-2-fkmr0

With the rebate, $199. I suspect this is partly due to remain competitive with Google's offerings.
Umberto
Steve

google maps system do not store the maps on the memory card so you have to download them during the use. This system can be great if you have a flat data plan. But this means, for examples, that in other countries you can not use it. Furthermore, in zones where you have not a fast data trasmission (in Italy we have a lot of zones where are not 3G coverage), the map could be charged too slowly. For this reason I prefer the system adopted by OVIMaps instead. The idea to pay for limited periods of time is very good. For example, the last summer I paid 8 Euros for a months of Europe navigation and I have been to Greece (my Garmin 2008 map has only the zone of Athens so it was unuseful for my purposes). At the end of the day, I save a lot of money in terms of fuel avoiding the bad roads and, why not, the not necessary toll roads. For sure, more than the 8 Euros that I gave to Nokia service.
Anyway, I think that a further reduction of the price could be beneficial for this excellent product.

Just another thing to conclude referring to micdabe opinion. My N97 GPS works great with a lot of softwares that I use (OVI Maps, Garmin, Sports Tracker, google maps). The signal is stable also during bad weather days and in the middle of big cities. Both the positioning and the sensitivity are from good to very good. For this reason, if you have problems with your N97 GPS, I suggest to check a Nokia care point. Another suggestion is to try and unistall Accuweather and, of course, an upgrade to fw 20.
slitchfield
Yes, N97 GPS isn't the best, but it's useable with:

1) new design antenna (with shield)
2) Maps booster add-on (adds Wi-Fi positioning, can work VERY well in towns)
3) a little patience 8-)
st1100flyer
My 5800XM came with Ovi Maps preloaded with a 3 month trial and I was very impressed with it. In use it was comparable with my dedicated Garmin satnav. However when the trial expired they wanted £99.99p for a 1yr licence which covered Walk/Drive Europe. Although impressed with Ovi Maps I thought it was totally unrealistic of Nokia to price a 1yr subscription at that level when dedicated satnavs are available for a lot less than that.
I have just checked the Ovi Maps Site and the current price for a 1yr subscription is £52.99p for Drive Europe. The Walk facility seems to have disappeared.

I agree with you totally that Nokia would benefit greatly in phone sales if they offered satnav free. There is, I believe, a 5800 version that comes bundled with fully working satnav so Nokia must be thinking along those lines. I think that most people, when looking for a new (high end) phone look at the phone as a complete package and the inclusion of fully working satnav without having to pay for future licences would greatly influence buyers - I know in the future it would influence me.
rvirga
The always-connected model of Google Maps works very well for the U.S. and Canada, where you can travel over an area the size of western Europe while staying within your country, and, what's most important here, within your own carrier's coverage area. It doesn't work very well for Europe, where each tiny nation has its own set of carriers, and data roaming charges are prohibitively high. Nokia has no reason to fear Google Maps Navigation.
slitchfield
Quote:
Originally Posted by rvirga View Post
The always-connected model of Google Maps works very well for the U.S. and Canada, where you can travel over an area the size of western Europe while staying within your country, and, what's most important here, within your own carrier's coverage area. It doesn't work very well for Europe, where each tiny nation has its own set of carriers, and data roaming charges are prohibitively high. Nokia has no reason to fear Google Maps Navigation.
Disagree. Google Maps uses negligible data when used with simple maps (i.e. stay away from satellite photos) - on a cross-UK journey recently I only got through about 600K. Even on roaming rates, that's only a matter of pence and not pounds.

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