Nokia on Tuesday rebranded its Maps offering and introduced HERE, the first cloud-based location service for multiple platforms. But how will Nokia Market here?
Nokia has always had great cartographic solutions since its Navteq acquisition in 2007. Navteq has been a major map source for many platforms and has been profitable within Nokia.
HERE brings a host of new location services and cross-platform capabilities. “Additionally, with HERE we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service,” said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop at the San Francisco event.
HERE is a premier map solution for Windows Phone, but Nokia is going further. A free HERE app for iOS 4+ is pending Apple’s approval. It is based on HTML5 with offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport support. For those frustrated with Apple Maps, HERE is a good solution. Especially without a Google Maps solution for iOS on the horizon, and the time it will take TomTom to improve Apple Maps.
Nokia also announced a strategic partnership with Mozilla delivering a Web version of HERE to Firefox OS. It also plans a HERE SDK for Android 2.2+ in early 2013. HERE will be available on all three major smartphone platforms, and on any PC running IE, Firefox, or Chrome and Macs using Safari, Firefox or Chrome.
Nokia is also acquiring Berkeley, California based earthmine for its innovative reality capture and advanced map-processing capabilities. Its 3D capabilities help Nokia compete with Google’s Street View.
The 3D technology, branded as LiveSight, delivers an augmented reality experience in a viewfinder to identify nearby points of interest. Nokia City Lens is the first app to provide LiveSight capabilities. In demos Peter Skillman, Head of Design for Nokia Location and Commerce showed the ability to hold up a Lumia device in a crowded room and get non-intrusive AR data on nearby POIs.
HERE can also be used offline. The North American database takes up 2.5GB of space, great for when you have low 3G/4G signal strength. Data is refreshed over Wi-Fi at user-defined intervals to help conserve battery life.
Nokia is seeing 75 times more use of its mapping data over last year and is tapping into user-submitted data through earthmine’s technology. Its new Map Creator tool allows people to assign more details to maps and satellite images, improving precision. Although Nokia still needs to improve image resolution as it is inferior to other solutions. here.net has officially launched and allows you to store and share favorite locations and access them cross platform.
I was very impressed by HERE’s deep data integration on a Lumia Windows Phone. It intuitively delivered distance time in stages, including walking, public transportation, and driving. I displayed my entire morning trip to the event. It showed turn-by-turn directions for my drive to the Lafayette BART station and the train schedule. Then it gave me turn-by-turn walking directions to the event from the Embarcadero BART station. It even showed nearby coffee houses along my route. It took at least three apps to do that on my iPhone 4.
How Will Nokia Market HERE?
While HERE is a great upgrade to Nokia Maps, Nokia has some digital marketing challenges ahead when promoting the re-branded location service. First the primary question is who will market it?
Will Nokia take the lead or look to carriers to market HERE? I don’t expect carriers to be able to effectively do that.
Will Microsoft step up and make HERE the default location solution across Windows Phone OEMs? Or will the other OEMs push back?
Will the HERE app prove to be wildly popular on iPhones and Android smartphones? Or just another solution to INRIX and others?
Beyond buying a Nokia device, how will people learn about HERE? If Nokia’s strategy is leverage all of the above, then careful coordination will be needed around messaging so that no confusion is created from all strategic message points. This is a tall order for Nokia when it comes to its 2013 digital marketing plans.
But the answer so far is neither HERE nor there.
– Randy Giusto