All our phones will have GPS, promises Nokia

The handset manufacturer has revealed that it expects all of its devices to one day carry GPS receivers--and it's already plotting what new services that will mean.

Once, phones with MP3 players and cameras included were considered high end. Today, such devices have become ubiquitous. Now, Nokia believes GPS functionality will soon follow the same path.

The world's biggest phone manufacturer has already started including GPS receivers into a handful of devices, including the N95, a self-styled multimedia computer and the Nokia 6110 Navigator. It is a trend that we are likely to see more of in the coming months, the Finnish mobile maker has revealed.

David Watkins, Multimedia Sales Director Nokia APAC, told ZDNet Australia that GPS will work its way from niche product to mainstream functionality and will one day be considered as ubiquitous as the cameraphone is today.

"We have product introductions as [a type functionality] scales across. GPS is not just for technology leaders or people juggling their life, it's really for anyone," he said. "It's a trend you will be seeing more of." The next wave of GPS-enabled Nokia phones are expected to be announced this September.

Nokia is hoping that such location-based services will go beyond their traditional capacity as direction finding equipment for those making unfamiliar road journeys to "discovery" technology, where users will use their mobiles to find their nearest coffee shop or post office.

So what comes next? Presence, apparently. "It will be about 'I know where my friends are, what presence status they're in'--so who's available for coffee in the CBD right now, like with IM presence," Watkins said.

The company has already produced sports software that blends location based information with a user's speed and other information to help runners analyse their daily jog. Watkins said with millions of developers working on the S60--the Nokia-owned platform that runs on top of the Symbian mobile operating system, many more applications will be produced to capitalize on location-based services.

According to analysts Frost and Sullivan, the Asia-Pacific location-based services market will be worth around US$500 million by the end of 2009, up from US$291.7 million in 2006 last year.

Nokia currently uses Navteq as its mapping supplier and the pair are considering branching out from road and street maps to include more rural offerings for bushwalkers and those exploring more remote areas.