Google Makes Deal with Tele Atlas

Google moves to offset Nokia's Navteq acquisition.

Let the digital map wars commence.

With Navteq already in global handset leader Nokia's fold, Google and Navteq competitor Tele Atlas announced June 30 a five-year licensing agreement giving Google access to Tele Atlas maps and dynamic content in more than 200 countries. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal covers all Google current and future navigation and location-based services, including cell phones based on Google's open-source Android operating system. Google and more than 30 partners are developing the platform to compete with Nokia's Symbian operating system and Apple's iPhone.

GPS will be a central feature of future handsets. Apple is already touting the GPS ability of its latest iPhone, to be released later in June. Nokia grabbed the chance in October 2007 to buy Navteq for $8.1 billion. According to iSuppli, sales of GPS navigation device are expected to triple to $12.8 billion in next two years.

"Geospatial data enhances global search significantly by organizing data and delivering results based on location," John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Google Maps, said in a statement. "Tele Atlas' map quality and the company's innovative approach to business were the key drivers for our decision."

The agreement gives Tele Atlas access to Google users' map edits to increase the quality and richness of Tele Atlas maps. The deal also depends Google's relationship with TomTom International, the parent company of Tele Atlas. In December, TomTom said it was teaming with Google to send business addresses directly from the Google Maps site to TomTom GPS devices.

After Google struck the deal with TomTom, Giorgio Scherl, a product manager at Google, said, "We are constantly working to make our maps more useful so they become a one-stop shop for finding all the local information and directions that people need."