Moves by Nokia, Apple and Google to improve mobile mapping services suggest a future with ubiquitous access to directions, but user content will be a critical component.
Nokia, Google and Apple have their way, driving directions may never be the
week handset maker Nokia announced
the launch of an updated version
of Ovi Maps that offers free walking and driving navigation to users of Nokia
GPS-enabled smartphones. Starting in March, Ovi
Maps will be preloaded on all smartphones
with a map of the country the
phone was bought in, as well as information from partners such as Weather.com or
dining review guide Michelin.
more and more handsets become equipped with mapping applications (and the
location-based services that come with them), the social and business
implications of this proliferation of GPS technology suggest a more connected
and closely watched world.
Maps, the mapping program from the search engine giant
, is currently
available around eight mobile platforms, including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile
and Apple's iPhone operating system. In October 2009, Google announced Google
Maps Navigation, a Web-based GPS for its open-source Android mobile phone
operating system. It offers features such as 3D views, turn-by-turn voice guidance
and automatic rerouting, but Google said unlike most navigation systems, Maps
Navigation was built from the ground up to take advantage of a phone's Internet
connection, like automatic business and traffic updates.
is attempting to lure users away from Google Maps
to its own mapping
service, Bing Maps, with a $100 gift card competition. A quick check of Apple's
App Store reveals 174 mapping applications, ranging from speed trap warning
apps to fast food and free Wi-Fi finders.
indeed, the future battle for mobile mapping supremacy may boil down to two
aspects: User-generated content and location-based service technology.
such as Apple, Yahoo and especially Google have invested large sums of money in
location-based services. Apple recently filed a patent for technology regarding
parking and location management processes and alerts, where a mobile device
could track a present position and adjust for an absolute reminder time to
account for travel times.
& Co., an industry analyst firm that specializes in covering Web services,
published a research note citing Google's Streetview and public transportation
services as main reasons for its success and its continuing investment in
improving its mapping solution. Google's location-based features on its maps,
like many of the App Store's location apps, rely on the input of its users for
reviews, descriptions and up-to-date information.
the number of mobile devices with embedded GPS technology increases, the
benefits of location-based services are likely to increase as more
on-the-ground information is gathered. According to ABI Research, the number of
subscribers to handset-based location based services doubled in 2008 to more
than 18 million. While navigation continued to lead in terms of total
subscribers, two other application areas -- enterprise and community (including
social networking) -- posted the highest year-to-year growth rates.
addition, a 2009 report by research firm Gartner said worldwide consumer
location-based services (LBS) subscribers and revenue are on pace to double,
and predicted that advertising-based or "free" LBS (disregarding data charges
by mobile carriers) will gain more traction as users adopt it as a way to limit
competitive landscape will change and most mobile carriers need to alter their
approach toward offering LBS and dealing with developers," wrote senior
research analyst Annette Zimmermann.
growth will hinge on -free' - disregarding data charges - services. Mobile
operators' initiatives to open up the application programming interface (API)
to third-party developers will help them compete against other players in the
market and will also be beneficial to the different parties involved, down to
the end user."