Nokia: Maps future of mobile comms

Mapping tech from Navteq acquisition will help Nokia establish Windows Phone as third platform of choice, says senior company exec who believes there's still room for third ecosystem, besides iOS and Android.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--Mobile navigation and mapping technology from Nokia's Navteq acquisition will be the foundation for future generations of mobile communications, reveals a senior company representative.

Colin Giles, Nokia's executive vice president of sales, said the integration of maps and navigation with social media features, for one, will present "great opportunities" for ecosystem operators, such as Microsoft and Nokia with the Windows Phone operating system (OS). Such mashups would attract more stakeholders such as developers and user-generated content providers onto the platform, he noted.

Giles, who was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the four-day CommunicAsia tradeshow here, noted that GPS (general positioning satellite) data collated from individual handsets with Nokia's mapping technologies can then be compiled to form tools that would solve pressing societal challenges, such as traffic gridlocks.

"What we need is collective intelligence from our ecosystem partners, which is why we recognize the importance of these partnerships," he said.

He added that a "hyper-local" strategy is important to deliver services and applications specific to individual markets, and this is especially pertinent to the Asia-Pacific mobile space. "After all, isn't [the effort to localize content] what connecting people and serving their needs all about?" Giles questioned rhetorically.

An example of Nokia's hyper-local strategy can be seen in the importance it places on operator relationships, he said. Giles said the support of operators is critical for the Windows Phone ecosystem to become as "compelling and competitive" as the market's two prevailing mobile platforms--Apple's iOS and Google's Android OSes--because telcos have "great local knowledge" and the necessary customer relationships that Nokia can tap.

Clarifying developer roadmaps
Shedding more light on the company's ecosystem plans, Nokia's senior vice president of developer and marketplace, Marco Argenti, said in a separate interview Tuesday that it is currently talking to developers to develop a porting tool to have apps written in Qt SDK (software development kit) to be published on Windows Phone platform, too.

"We thought about the pros and cons between Qt and Windows, and decided that going with Windows, which has great development tools such as Visual Studio and .XNA, was the best way to go," Argenti explained.

Quizzed how complex the porting process is and whether the additional step would deter developers from creating applications for Nokia, Kenny Mathers, Asia-Pacific head of developer relations of Forum Nokia, said it is currently at "the starting point of creating porting guidelines" and talking to developers regarding issues such as basic coding language.

Mathers, who sat in on the same interview with Argenti, added that the Ovi appstore will be discontinued and renamed Nokia Store, which will be a "branded" marketplace with its own content and developer relationships within the Windows Phone ecosystem.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop on Tuesday reiterated his confidence in Windows Phone as a game changer and that a "new season" beckons for the embattled handset maker.

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