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Move over Google Maps: Nokia’s “Here” Takes Center Stage

Sites include , . Published on November 14th, 2012. Written by Anthony West.

The importance of Google Maps cannot be emphasized and Apple’s recent troubles creating its own mapping integration for iOS 6 proves just how sophisticated Google has become with its Map product. But there are competitors creeping up on Google and Nokia is one of them. The former mobile phone giant seems to have found a new niche and its Maps and location services have been gathering steam in the last few years.

Nokia powers Bing and Yahoo

Nokia has been quietly building up its maps application in the last few years and it has done so almost without getting the attention of Google. Nokia for instance is the first company to digitally map all 7 continents, something Google obviously didn’t feel was a priority. The result of this mapping-race has been a slow cornering of the location services space by Nokia and now the company counts both Yahoo and Bing as customers.

The company recently staged a maps event in San Francisco where it unveiled a new name for its maps. Dubbed “Here,” the next-generation application is being hailed as very cutting edge and so far users seem to like the look and feel of it. In the last year alone, Nokia has seen uptake of its location services jump 75%–a clear sign that users (be it mobile customers or corporates) are warming to the idea that Google Maps may not be the very best and only option out there. In addition to Yahoo and Bing, Nokia also counts MapQuest as customer and its maps currently powers 4 in 5 cars that use in-dash navigation.

Brave new world of maps

Nokia seems ready to take maps and location services in general to a whole new level. At the recent event the company announced that in addition to the 80,000 data sources that currently powers its services, users will now start playing a crucial role in fleshing out any blind or incomplete mapping data. “Here” will now allow users to contribute information on the applications existing data set, these contributions will of course first be vetted by the company. Once users consistently contribute credible and useful data, they’ll be pegged as reliable and “trusted” inside Nokia data crunching machine.

Nokia also plans to add more qualitative aspects to maps. Drivers in the future will be able to navigate to more fuel-efficient routes, for instance. There’s also advanced plans to bring a 3D colored views to important city landmarks—a feature that will be exclusively to Nokia’s product. Firefox users will also get a chance to enjoy the rich features of Here, said Nokia CEO Steven Elop.

Like Bill Gates’ vision many years ago of having a Windows computer on every desk, Nokia has the same vision for maps. “The power of our vision is now something that needs to be shared more broadly. We are creating Here to span across many devices and operating systems. We want to give anyone with any type of device to be able to use this,” said Elop.

Nokia’s Here certainly does sound promising; if the company can wean people off Google Maps, it will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Do you think Nokia Maps is a better product than Google Maps? Share your thoughts with us below.

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