Nokia unveils cloud-based location service 'Here'
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) unveiled a new addition to its arsenal of location-based apps. "Here" is a new cloud-based, platform-agnostic location service that aggregates a variety of location-specific services for the user including maps, directions and local deals.
"Here" is available to desktop and mobile users, and the Web version of the app is already available to devices running iOS 4+ and Android 2.2 and up. AllThingsD reported that a free, native version of "Here" has been submitted to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) for approval and will include public transit information, turn-by-turn driving directions, voice-guided walking directions, offline maps and live traffic information. Nokia promised to have a "Here" SDK for Android available in 2013, for developers looking to integrate aspects of "Here" into their apps. The company also promised a Web-optimized version for Firefox OS.
The "Here" app additionally touts indoor mapping of over 18,000 buildings and a map-creator tool that allows users to combine user-submitted information with satellite imagery.
Nokia separately announced it would acquire 3D mapping technology firm Earthmine. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Earthmine team will be integrated into Nokia's Location & Commerce business and be based in Berkeley, Calif. This move echoes earlier statements from CEO Stephen Elop touting location as one of Nokia's key areas of focus going forward.
Nokia's interest in location isn't new, however. The company acquired location services company Navteq for $8.1 billion in late 2007, and followed up that purchase by acquiring crowdsourced traffic alert solutions provider Trapster and 3D urban modeling software developer PixelActive.
These moves put Nokia at odds with the likes of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple, which both have their own mapping technologies. If "Here" proves successful it will be a blow to Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook public apologized for Apple's in-house Maps and suggested that users download alternatives.
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