Nokia expands HERE mapping to broader Android market

The HERE beta for Android expands beyond Samsung devices, but there is some friction with the distribution plan.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Nokia said Tuesday that it has launched it HERE mapping app for Android on all smartphones.

The move provides more distribution than HERE's first effort, which focused only on Samsung Galaxy smartphones. When Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft, it kept its networking unit and HERE mapping business along with intellectual property.


HERE appears to be a promising map application, but the beta has its distribution issues. For instance, HERE initially made an appearance on the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store, which lacks the footprint of Google Play. Samsung and HERE have a broader collaboration effort underway. 

For the broader Android rollout, HERE has to be side loaded onto devices or downloaded via a URL. These hurdles aren't insurmountable---it's not rocket science---but there is some friction involved with installing HERE. HERE is also available on Windows Phone and Fire OS. 

Turns out part of that friction is by design.

Sean Fernback, Nokia's senior vice president of everyday mobility for HERE, told ZDNet's Jo Best in a recent interview the following:

This is a very competitive space, there's a number of different maps applications out there, a lot of them are free, and that's hard to compete with. So we decided we'd do something different and our approach to getting reach and distribution is by partnership only. That's not to say at some point we wouldn't put it on the [Play] Store, but that's not our prime strategy for creating a volume base of users.

That strategy is interesting since HERE is basically planning on a mapping buddy system that would presumably include being bundled by carriers or smartphone vendors. The plan would play to Nokia's historical partnership strategy, but may not result in a large base of users.

Time will tell. For now, if you want to give HERE a try you'll need to go outside Google Play.

Jo Best contributed to this report.


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