Nokia turns smartphones into SatNavs ... for free

Cellphone giant Nokia is to make turn-by-turn GPS navigation available for free on ten of its top smartphones, a move that is bound to affect companies such as TomTom and Garmin.

Cellphone giant Nokia is to make turn-by-turn GPS navigation available for free on ten of its top smartphones, a move that is bound to affect companies such as TomTom and Garmin.

Nokia has announced that the free Ovi Maps application (in association with Navteq, a Nokia owned company) will incorporate turn-by-turn navigation for both walking and driving. The maps will be compatible with 10 handsets, offer 2D and 3D mapping, load onto the smartphone either over the air or can be preloaded with the use of a PC or Mac (so no network connection needed and no charges incurred, especially when roaming).

The maps will be pre-loaded on every GPS-enabled handset sold from March 2010.

Here are the details.

  • Compatible handsets: - X6 - N97 mini - E72 - E55 - E52 - 6730 classic - 6710 Navigator - 5800 XpressMusic - 5800 Navigation Edition - 5230
  • Coverage for 180 countries
  • Turn-by-turn for 74 countries
  • Traffic data for 10 countries
  • 46 languages

So, what's the idea behind this? Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s Executive Vice President, is clear that this is all about boosting handset sales. That said, I wonder how many people actually use their smartphones as in-car GPS receivers. On most handsets the screen is really too small to be useful, and unless you go out and buy mounts and power cords, the whole thing really never works out right. I'm curious to hear from people who do use their smartphones in this way.

That said, it's a good move that will cause others in the industry to innovate.