Nokia recently announced the launch of a free map and navigation system, for its mobile phones, called Ovi Maps. This new service will challenge stand-alone sat-nav devices and store maps on the phone thus reducing the need to update and download new maps over a network connection. Ovi Maps will enable users to access local data from travel guides, such as Lonely Planet, post their location to Facebook and update their Twitter accounts. In addition, the service suggests different routes for pedestrians and cars and will offer turn-by-turn navigation, similar to that in existing GPS devices.
Ovi maps will initially be available in 10 handsets (est. 83 million) and can be downloaded for free from Nokia’s Ovi application store. It is hoped that the service will be extended to more handsets as time goes on. However, it will be preloaded on all compatible phones offered by Nokia from 21 January.
This latest move by Nokia is widely seen as a “competitive response to Google”, which also offers a free live sat-nav for its Nexus One handset and the Motorola Droid. However, the impact on companies such as TomTom, which sell sat-nav devices, is still unknown. The service will cover 180 countries and offer voice navigation for 74 of those. Nokia hopes to profit from the service in future by selling advertising around maps and applications.