Nokia and mapping

A few observations on the news that Nokia is now making maps available free for some of its smartphones

  • This is partly about Nokia trying to find out a distinctive market position which is more than being providers of simple mobile phones that mostly make phone calls and send text messages.  Given that they spent the second half of the twentieth century in transition from being a timber company to being a mobile phone company, I think they have a good chance of succeeding, but I hope they don’t alienate the phone-call and text-message market in the meantime
  • Nokia, as owner of the mapping company Navteq, is in direct competition with TomTom as owner of TeleAtlas, and increasingly competition between the two is likely to be defined in terms of mapping services, and what can be done with them, rather than anything else
  • This is a further sign of the smartphone potentially making stand-alone SatNav devices look obsolete.  In this way SatNavs have followed a fairly typical lifecycle for electronic products, in going from novelty to being obsolete over time, but they have done this in an unusually compressed period: what was a novelty in 2003 is already looking obsolete in 2010

Though having seen this I wonder whether Nokia may be going back into the timber business


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