Nokia is upping the ante in the mobile phone navigation market with the news it is to make walking and driving navigation free as part of a new version of Ovi Maps, as it looks to find ways of enticing smartphone customers to buy Nokia phones.
The new version of Ovi Maps - which will rival Google's navigation offering available on some Android phones, as well as many paid-for offerings from other companies, whilst threatening the in-car GPS market - will include turn-by-turn voice guidance for 74 countries in 46 languages, and traffic information for over 10 countries, as well as detailed maps for over 180 countries.
"It will boost our smartphone sales, it is a big change for the consumer", said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia executive VP, speaking confidently at the service's London launch, before stating that there are 83 million handsets Nokia has sold over the past couple of years that will be able to use the service straight away.
Aside from data charges from operators, Nokia promises no hidden costs, and the "hybrid vector" nature of Ovi Maps means the application can run without a connection once you've got the correct map and route loaded up.
As with previous Ovi launches, Nokia is throwing the new mapping data out to the developers, hoping to empower developers to create new applications. Consumers however, won't be able to use the app on a PC - only on phones.
The new Ovi Maps is available now for download for 10 Nokia Symbian handsets, with more smartphones due to be added in the coming weeks, while from March 2010 it will be preloaded on all GPS-enabled Nokia smartphones.
Although the N97 won't be included in the initial run of handsets available, Nokia has confirmed that it will be available by the end of the month.
The current list of compatible Nokia devices is as follows: Nokia N97 mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition, Nokia E52, Nokia E55, Nokia E72, Nokia 5230, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia 6730 classic and Nokia X6.
You can download the app and find out more at http://www.nokia.com/maps.