Nicole took her Lumia 1520 smartphone with her on a recent trip to Paris, testing out the Nokia Here navigation service on Windows Phone without the aid of a 3G data connection. Using the offline map and data downloading feature, we were quick to form the opinion that Nokia Here is the best offline navigation solution currently out there. Check out a comparison of Nokia Here and Google Maps on location at the Luve, Paris:
When you are on vacation or business trip and find yourself in a new and unfamiliar city, your mobile gadgets are put to the test in variety of ways. In terms getting around Google Maps is now a mainstay for most Android handset users, but it is not the only option. We have seen consistent improvements on other navigation platforms including Microsoft’s Bing Maps, Nokia Here and apps such as TripAdvisor which are all really useful for geeks on the road.
With offline access and search functionality to maps and local data in most major cities in 95 countries Nokia is currently a leader in the mobile navigation space. Nokia’s prowess in this area however, is not something that has been achieved overnight, in fact the Finnish company have been striving towards an intelligent global mapping and navigation services since at least 2006 when it acquired ‘gate 5’, a Berlin-based software company that developed apps and services for location based information on mobile devices. With this knowledge base Nokia was gained a foothold in areas of mapping and route planning, leveraging a gate5 app named Smart2Go which used a 3D-map interface.
Facing stiff competition with online services like Google Maps, Nokia again bolstered its expertise in the area of navigation by buying Navteq, an American map database provider and a fundamental part of the Nokia Here business unit today that creates a substantial revenue stream of its own. Navteq gave Nokia decades of experience in the US auto industry, and was a leader in the field of car navigation in 2007.
Nokia Maps was integrated into its Ovi service in mid-2007, with further acquisitions in the social media developer space including Plum and Dopplr. Nokia’s thirst did not end there however, with enterprise-level (i.e. government and military-grade) geographic information provider Metacarta being added the team in 2010.
The slick and intuitive intelligence that Nicole demos in the video, shows how Nokia is actually now in a relative position of dominance when it comes to mobile navigation services. Nokia Here is essentially the product of almost a decade of hard work and something one would hope continues to develop and evolve under the curatorship of new owners Microsoft who, let’s not forget, also have Bing Maps to bring to the table. The Nokia brand may not exist, but when the ink dries on the deal in a few days time, Microsoft would find itself in very strong position regarding navigation, maps and geographical data. Let’s hope they don’t mess that up.
Of course Google Maps is has to be the big rival to Nokia Here, and in terms of offline access to the maps it is now possible, if not so easy to implement. But Google does not offer search services or local data, which puts the service behind Nokia for the moment. It will be interesting to see how Google and Microsoft compete and differentiate in this space in the coming months.