After picking up another location licensee yesterday in Esri, Nokia is continuing to push its HERE mapping business beyond its own smartphone hardware. Today it’s announcing the forthcoming release of its turn-by-turn sat-nav software with offline global maps, HERE Drive+, for all Windows Phone 8 devices, not just its own Lumia line of smartphones.
But while this software is free for owners of Nokia’s Lumia 928, 925, 920, 822, 820, 810 and 620 — to give WP fans an incentive to buy a Lumia — it’s being priced at €34.99 for other, non-Nokia Windows Phones. So this is Nokia both supporting the Windows Phone ecosystem as a whole but also looking for additional revenue streams beyond smartphone hardware — i.e. if it can drive uptake of its mapping software among other mobile users.
The local maps version of the same software, HERE Drive, is already available to non-Lumia Windows Phones in select markets (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.), but Nokia said it will be including a new option to purchase an in-app upgrade to add a global navigation license for €15.49.
That extant app is getting this update by the end of this week. The update will also add a feature called My Commute, which learns the user’s daily driving habits to provide a “predictable and personalized commute recommendations based on current traffic conditions,” according to Nokia.
The company has also tweaked the Here Drive apps’ interface, and has souped up a Waze-esque real-time traffic feature, which it says aggregates data from:
…both commercial and consumer [smartphone] probe data, the world’s largest fixed proprietary sensor network, publicly available event-based data and billions of historical traffic records.
We also combine 20 billion real-time GPS probe points a month with historical information and search queries to learn where people are travelling and what the conditions are like… almost half of all our data is under one minute old and more than three-quarters is under five minutes old.
When you are drawing on third parties to beef up the quality of your data, as Waze does, the more users your software has the better it gets, which gives Nokia further incentive to drive usage of Here.
“With the global release of HERE Drive+ for all Windows Phone 8 devices we will further extend our HERE business and deliver on our promise of making HERE experiences available for as many people as possible. The more people are using our location offering the better it will get for everyone,” said Thom Brenner, vice president, Windows Phone applications, HERE, in a statement. “At the same time this release also demonstrates our commitment to further strengthen the Windows Phone ecosystem with our maps assets.”
Mapping and location data ia a very hot space right now, with Google’s recent $1.1 billion purchase of Waze. It’s not just the usefulness to mobile users of location services that’s attracting attention, but the data that such services collect and generate that’s seen as a secondary wealth generator. And wealth creation is something Nokia is in keen need of, now that it is operating a much smaller smartphone business than its Symbian-powered mobile heydays.
Nokia rebranded its mapping service as HERE back in November last year in the hopes of ramping up the licensing potential of its location services by taking its all-too-well-known mobile brand out of the equation to attract more users, such as rival mobile makers who might otherwise have shied away from adding Nokia’s brand to their devices.
Mapping and location data has obvious potential in what is looking likely to be the next big consumer electronics land-grab: in-car technology. For instance, just today it emerged Apple has filed a patent for an in-car entertainment system. Whether Nokia could ultimately end up spinning off its Here division — or even selling off its mobile hardware business to focus the majority of its energies in and around location and mapping is one interesting possibility.