Free mapping for Nokia Mobiles

Nokia has announced that it is making its smart2go mapping and navigation platform available free of charge. This is a pretty speedy response to Nokia’s August 2006 acquisition of the German navigation software company Gate5.
The smart2go platform allows for mapping and routing in over 150 countries and has support for full turn-by-turn satellite navigation in 30 countries.

Nokia is offering the app for no charge on selected Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile 5.0 devices; it plans to roll out support for most of the major mobile OS platforms later. It will also preinstall the smart2go mapping and navigation app on all future Nokia Nseries phones under the name ‘Nokia Maps’.

Free maps covering 150 countries will also be made available, all with points-of-interest databases. These can be downloaded at will on to memory cards.

The platform contains over 15m POIs and users can send specific locations to friends as a multimedia message, an email, or via Bluetooth or infrared mail. They can also send map excerpts and routes or save map screen shots to the gallery on the device.

“People will trust and use maps if they have those maps with them when they need them, and smart2go allows consumers the full freedom of which maps they want to carry with them. By offering Nokia Maps and smart2go for free on your mobile device, cost is no longer a barrier for anyone to enjoy the convenience of maps and routing on-the-go,” said Ralph Eric Kunz, vice-president, Nokia, Multimedia.

He also said that “Nokia is on track to build the world’s most connected location based platform for mobile devices which also opens up interesting opportunities for future services.”

So who makes money, and where? The extra traffic might be one revenue stream, but advertising will probably count for a lot more – big-name brands like McDonald’s will have the option to place branded icons across the world’s digital maps downloaded on to millions of mobile devices.

And there will be a number of extra-cost services, like full-scale turn-by-turn route planning and travel guides for cities around the world.

Various licenses are available, from a one week to a three-year term. When traveling to a new country for a holiday, for instance, you could download the relevant maps in advance via a PC and then subscribe to the navigation service just for the duration of the trip.

It’s a big app – it unpacks to 20MB once installed before you install any maps or voice files – and it can seem a bit slow to get started. But once installed, it worked well for us on an N73 (though the screen is too small for safe in-car navigation).

smart2Gp had no problem finding our Bluetooth GPS unit and using it on the road. It’s a bit slow at times, but route-finding seems to work well. Data download costs for the map could be high, although Nokia does provide a map manager app for a PC that will enable you to use broadband and port it over. A map for the whole of the UK runs to 90MB, and obviously the download means you don’t have to be connected to a mobile network.

Verdict? Some rough edges, but bags of potential. Try it yourself: the download is at

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