Nokia's massive launch of local mapping services for India

Nokia's mapping service NAVTEQ has steadily but quietly added powerful features like indoor mapping, natural voice guidance in regional languages, and search using points of interests that make it a valuable navigation product.

Indoor maps have been around for a while with Bing and Google offering maps for malls and airports. Last year, Nokia owned mapping service NAVTEQ introduced indoor mapping called Destination Maps for navigation beyond the front door. NAVTEQ is the first major mapping service to bring indoor mapping to India. The product is being launched with indoor maps for 150 malls in 17 cities. (An impressive launch number.) In another announcement the same day, NAVTEQ talked about their entire suite of products for the Indian consumer. Unlike the US, mapping in India is more challenging, every building does not have a specific number and neither is every address in the same format. Nokia faced this challenge and explains that, for India, the company has introduced a feature called Points of Interest and Points Addressing. The features enables users to search for their destination by searching for points of interest around the area. NAVTEQ says they already have nearly 6.25 Million points of interests in their database.

The other service Nokia is bringing to India is known as Natural Guidance. (Probably the coolest in my opinion if it can do what it says.) The description of the product is pretty straightforward, instead of robotic directions like "Right after .25 Miles," the GPS device will give you more natural directions like, "Go right from the Green building." This would be very cool to have. Introduced for 14 cities, Natural Guidance will use landmarks and signs like traffic signals to announce directions. The fun and localization does not stop there. The company says they are bringing these features in regional languages like Hindi, Tamil and Gujrati.

Nokia is going through a transition and even though India considered to be Nokia's backyard, the company has some catching up to do. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop believes location services are a natural step for the company and they have been focusing on location services like restaurant recommendations.