What Does Nokia’s Tie-Up With Groupon Mean for the Future of Mobile?

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will begun using the maps on its Lumia smartphone as platforms to promote Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) offers, the company announced Wednesday. U.S. users will be able to buy Groupon Now! offers directly from their phones and get directions to the locations to redeem the offers using the Lumia’s navigation system.

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Nokia hasn’t shared financial details of its partnership with Groupon, and hasn’t announced any similar deals, but its Groupon tie-up could signal a lot more for the phone maker down the road. If the partnership proves successful, Nokia may look for further ways to monetize its maps.

Nokia has been trying to reverse its decline by adopting Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) smartphone software, but has so far had little success against industry leaders Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung.

Microsoft announced Windows 8 in June, and said the new software would hit the market this fall.

“The primary intent right now is to make Windows Phone a competitive ecosystem versus either Android or iOS,” said Michael Halbherr, Nokia’s executive vice president, referring to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system and the software Apple uses to run its mobile devices, including but not limited to the iPhone.

Nokia purchased navigation company Navteq for $8.1 billion in 2008. It now claims that nine out of 10 car navigation systems use its maps. Until now, Nokia navigation products have been applications running on Windows phones, but with Windows Phone 8, Nokia’s location platform will be part of the operating system itself.

Of course, that means competitors will also include the services on their phones, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told reporters in Chicago.

“It is to our benefit to ensure that many different companies use this, and there will be companies taking advantage of the platform who may compete with other elements of Nokia,” Elop said. “But that has to be okay. It has to be, you have to think that way. The competition…is not with other device manufacturers, it’s with Google.”

Google, which has the most popular smartphone operating system, also provides its own free mapping service, and powers iOS maps as well — though that will change with iOS 6, which is expected to launch sometime in August. Samsung, which recently toppled Apple to become the smartphone maker with the most overall shipments, runs its smartphones using Google’s Android software.

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