Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) young mapping service may still be a work in progress, but it is already finding new competition from unexpected quarters: Nokia (NYSE:NOK). The Finnish mobile company has announced plans to buy 3D imaging firm Earthmine and revamp its mapping tools under a new brand name. The acquisition deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, though financial details were not available.
This week, Nokia also announced a new cloud-based mapping platform called Here, which can work across multiple screens and operating systems. A mobile version of the application will be available from Apple’s App Store in about two weeks, pending the iPhone maker’s approval. The HTML5-based program will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walking navigation, and public transport directions. There are plans to launch a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android version of Nokia Here early next year. The Finnish company has also entered into a strategic partnership with Mozilla with the aim of bringing a mobile web version of Here Maps for the new Firefox OS next year.
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“People want great maps, and with Here we can bring together Nokia’s location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world,” Nokia chief executive officer Stephen Elop said in a statement.
Nokia, once a mobile market leader, has struggled since the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. The company has lost about 90 percent of its value since 2007 and the stock is down 43 percent just this year. Now, it hopes to use it location features to differentiate itself from Apple and Android devices.
“The location services — the mapping, the navigation, the augmented reality — are primary differentiators for our devices,” Elop told Bloomberg in an interview. “The best and first experiences will show up on Nokia’s devices.”
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