While details still have not been released, the latest insider information reported by Search Engine Land suggests that Nokia–and by proxy of its acquisition, Navteq–could potentially be powering mapping information on Microsoft’s Bing Maps, which is the default mapping service on Windows Phone 7 devices. All the details aren’t ironed out, and things can change, but for now it seems that Microsoft will be proving the overall user interface on Bing Maps while Nokia and Navteq would supply the mapping information and data.
A deal like this may seem outlandish at first, considering that Microsoft had invested huge amounts of money and energy into making Bing Maps competitive against Google Maps, but as Navteq already provides some mapping data to Bing and others, it may not be too far of a stretch.
After the Nokia-Windows Phone 7 announcement at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Nokia announced that Nokia Maps would be a “a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services” and would be integrated with Bing for advertising, local search, and other exeperiences.
As part of its deal with Microsoft, Nokia, unlike other Windows Phone 7 OEM, would have access to the core operating system code and could make changes to those codes. It remains unclear then if the resulting Nokia-branded Windows Phone 7 smartphone would launch with the default Bing Maps, even if its powered by Nokia and Navteq, or if the company would instead default to its own Nokia Maps, which was previously known as Ovi Maps as Nokia is re-branding its Ovi services to Nokia.
Ovi Maps, now Nokia Maps, on Symbian devices already offer a robust way to navigate and comes as standard-fare and free on devices. It includes POIs, weather, traffic, points of interests, check-in capabilities, and turn-by-turn voice guided navigation. Nokia Maps also offers users the ability to download and store their maps locally on their devices or to use the mapping service online, similar to Google Maps with Navigation on Android devices. Also, unlike other third-party navigation apps, like Navigon, Nokia Maps doesn’t require the user to parse out their destination address into separate fields for city, state, street name, and number. Rather, users can enter all that information into one field, similar to most mapping services on a browser, for example.
Most recently, Nokia has been revamping its desktop mapping interface for the browser, adding street view and realistic 3D building renderings.
According to Search Engine Land, “However my lunch companion argued unequivocally that Nokia Maps would effectively replace almost everything that Microsoft had developed over the past several years in terms of the Bing Maps infrastructure.”
The site also reported an interest fact that maps was part of the reason why Nokia went with Windows Phone 7 rather than with Android in defining its future strategy. Nokia decided to go against Google as Google refused to use Navteq/Nokia mapping data to power its Google Maps:
And there was another very interesting remark. He asserted that Google’s unwillingness to agree to a co-mingling of Google Maps and Nokia Maps or substitution of Nokia Maps on the back end was one of the sticking points that prevented Nokia and Google from coming to terms.
There could be a lot of synergies behind a Bing Maps powered by Nokia–Bing has more POIs than Nokia does and Nokia provides better pedestrian routes while Navteq offers more robust mapping data. Together, with 3D, better maps, and a simple Bing UI, perhaps a Nokia-Microsoft partnership will be a winning combo in mobile and in mapping.