Nokia Launches HERE, Heats Up Maps Rivalry With Google

Nokia has launched a new flagship location and map service- HERE for all its devices and beyond i.e. the service would apply to devices beyond its own products.

HERE is touted as the next gen location, navigation and mapping based service which, as decipherable from the Nokia move is aimed to run across all platforms. Nokia Ovi Maps is already one of the most dependable services among localized mapping and navigation; but it seems HERE is supposed to help it deal with the challenges thrown by Google’s rapid upscale of he mapping based services.  Its a multi-platform and multiple vantage service for location, mapping and navigation of the world through handheld devices. In other words, it is intended to be the competitive replacement to Google Maps. Nokia has also parsed a partnership to develop the HERE platform for mobile and handhelds via Firefox OS in the next year’s updates.

The HERE development by Nokia, must be seen in chapters, rather than a big announcement. Here is the break-up:-

Android Prototype: The critical and underlined development among all, remains that Nokia has also showcased an Android OS based app prototype and is also putting the bricks into releasing a HERE SDK for Android OEMs and developers.

Service Roll-out for Apple: The Apple iOS HERE app is apparently almost ready, and would be available soon on the Apple’s App Store.

Earthmine Acquisition: Nokia has also announced the acquisition of Berkeley (California) based earthmine – a reality capture and 3D image processing tech firm. This is single-handedly aimed at bolstering and transcending the 3D map service which HERE is poised to offer.

Launching LiveSight (TM): Nokia has also flagged off LiveSight™. This is meant to offer 3D maps, navigation, augmented reality based mapping and location service. A simple extrapolation of Nokia CityLens (flagged specifically for Nokia Lumia machines) LiveSightuses the camera viewfinder in the phone to get information about the location. If you ask me, I feel this is heavily drawn from Google’s Goggles – which enabled image searches and augmented reality based applications, for a long time before these sort of specific applications arrived.

A quick recap of what has been happening in the mapping and navigation services scheme of products and the battles therein – Nokia eyed  a partner in Oracle to offer mapping service to its clients. This deal is on similar lines with what it forged with Groupon Inc. and Amazon. On a parallel note, Amazon is intent on obtaining license for the mapping service of Nokia passively, and has put in place custom API for its Kindle products – thereby snubbing Google Maps. This jolt compounded the Apple Maps snub to Google Maps. But, Google remained unfazed and continued to discretely implement its slew of improvements, new features and the inclusion of services like Voice Navigation, Live Traffic Updates and Underwater navigation. It was observed by WAT Blog recently that Google Maps may well be shaping up the map usage culture in India specifically, in spite of Nokia Ovi Maps being predominantly available in all Nokia phones in India (and the stellar maps service it prides itself with).

In all, Nokia needs this new induction (HERE) to work positively for it desperately. Nokia is currently reeling in successive losses every quarter for the past year and a half – and this alone looks to help it come out of the swamp of economic mess. If anything, the current scene for Nokia, which is scathing under the attack and deluge of Android mobile – HERE is one diverse service which may help it reclaim it lost sheen.

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