Nokia Bringing ‘Here’ Maps to iOS & Android

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Nokia announced on Tuesday that it will be bringing its highly-touted mapping service to iOS and Android. The company is launching the effort under a new brand name called "Here." The company is looking to expand its presence in the smartphone mapping services industry beyond its own smartphones, which are struggling.

Here, Coming to iOS & Android

Here, Coming to iOS & Android

Nokia abandoned its proprietary Symbian OS in favor of Windows Phone in February 2011, and in 2012, the company launched the Lumia line of Windows Phone hardware. Even though that hardware has received mostly positive reviews, sales haven't taken off and Nokia holds a tiny share of the market.

Which is where Here comes into play. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told The New York Times that his company is looking for more users to make sure that its mapping service has enough end-user data.

“For the location platform to be at the highest quality, one needs scale," Mr. Elop said. "And you need as many different people contributing as possible. Of course, Nokia will build apps, some of them unique to Lumia devices, that gain a competitive advantage for Nokia.”

Nokia's hardware business may be struggling to find its way in a market dominated by Android and iOS, but the company has bene pretty aggressive with its mapping service. In September, Apple released its own Apple Maps app in iOS 6, and the launch was met with criticism and complaints about shortcomings.

Here Screen

Here Screenshot

Nokia launched a PR war touting its own mapping service, saying that it beat both Apple Maps and industry leader Google Maps in several key features. Today's move suggests that Nokia sees its mapping service as a profit center in its own right. At the same time, the company is being realistic about its last place showing in market share.

Speaking of Google Maps, executives have leaked to the mainstream media expressing their doubt that Apple will approve a dedicated Google Maps app on the App Store. Nokia doesn't seem to share those doubts and specifically stated, "The application is scheduled to be available for free download from Apple's App Store in the coming weeks."

"Scheduled to be available" suggests the app has been approved by Apple, though it's always possible the "scheduled" refers to Nokia's schedule, rather than Apple's.

Nokia also plans to release an SDK for Android, and the company has inked a deal with Mozilla to provide mapping services to Firefox OS, an operating system the organization is developing.

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For fun, check out Nokia's press release. The "Forward Looking Statements" caveat is more than twice as long as the press release itself (1,568 words in the caveat and 669 words in the press release). That's kind of entertaining.

In any event, this is a smart move for Nokia. It not only gets user data for its mapping data, it will expose millions of potential customers to what the company thinks is a superior experience. It's possible that some of those people will be so pleased with that experience, they'll give a Nokia device a chance.

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