Does Nokia have an advantage over Google?

According to Nokia, OVI Maps are available for more than 180 countries with car and pedestrian navigation available for 74 countries in 46 languages, while traffic services are available in 10 countries.

Perhaps more telling, Dobson (President of TeleMapics) contends, is that the top five countries downloading the new, free version of OVI maps were China, Italy (with the highest number of smart phone users in Europe), UK, Germany and Spain. The number of users of Google’s navigation applications in these same five countries is zero, he said.

One thing Nokia has over Google is the company’s ability to provide quality maps, Dobson said. “I suspect that Nokia’s ownership of Navteq will help keep them ahead of Google, in terms of maps and navigation, over the next few years. The important question is whether Google can enhance the quality of its map database to provide routing that rivals the accuracy and reliability of that provided by systems using Navteq data,” he said.

“It is my opinion that the Google map base is less accurate than that possessed by Navteq, although Google is certainly making progress in improving the quality of their database. In turn, Google, so the backwoods chatter holds, apparently concluded a one-time deal with AND in the first quarter of 2009, to use AND’s maps of Western Europe.”

In addition, Dobson said that news from AND indicates that the revenue from the deal with the “major U.S. company” might be delayed until 2010, indicating that Google may not be able to move as fast as it had hoped to create a Euro-Google-Base.

“It is my opinion that Google will find creating a navigable map base of Western Europe comparable in quality to Navteq or Tele Atlas much more difficult than doing the same in the United States–as noted before, a goal that they have not yet reached here,” he said.

“Nokia’s acquisition of Navteq has provided it a cushion and a lead over Google, but only in mapping and I am not sure how long that lead will last. Remember, Google’s primary interest is not in selling Smartphones, or even in licensing Android to manufacturers of smart handsets. Google has developed both initiatives as methods of forward integrating into a “distribution channel” that will help them sell geospatially-targeted advertising to merchants interested in marketing through the mobile Internet.”

Overall, Google is not competing with Nokia, nor is it competing with Navteq, Dobson said. “It is Google’s need to support the delivery of advertising that drives its relentless innovation. For example, ‘why doesn’t Google’s map app work offline like Nokia’s?’ Easy, they have not yet figured out a way to deliver advertisements to an unconnected handset in a manner that would make it worth their while,” he said.

Google is not interested in giving away map and navigation applications to its users to make the geographically literate, Dobson said. “Instead, Google is interested in exposing their users to location-based advertising, a process in which the advertisers and buyers might be advantaged by the autocorrelation between their locations,” he said.

“Nokia, at least today, is just trying to define features that will lead buyers to choose their phones over those of their competitors. If Nokia cannot find a way to enhance its business model and strategies for connected handsets, including advertising, it will slowly be ‘Googleized.’”

Courtesy: GPS World.

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