TAPC - Nokia’s location-based experiences

Ralph Kunz is vice president of multimedia experiences at Nokia. He focused on what the company calls “location-based experiences.” In the past those experiences included Web mapping (MapQuest) or in-car navigation tools (TomTom). Now that experience is moving to mobile devices which are location aware and connected. And the market is changing because of that.

Why? Mapping routing users are expected to grow to about 20 million in 2006. But Nokia expects to sell some 300 million Nokia phones. So, if they (and others) get mapping into phones that expands the location-based experience market from niche to mass.

Why is the market ready now after the failure in the late 1990s? In part, he argued, because personal navigation devices allow you to take maps anywhere you want. And, that’s a big thing to learn. It was learned from something similar: iPods. iPods convinced us about music everywhere; now it’s time for location information everywhere.

He noted too, strangely echoing a hall conversation I had before the session, that the search paradigm is now in end user minds. It follows the move from directory use on the Internet (remember my first GIS writing job? I wrote a GIS directory!) to search on Internet.

He cited tech enablers including cheaper GPS chips, lower power consumption, etc. and cited that 3G is not required for these experiences. It’s also ready because users want and vendors can provide mapping/routing apps that are connected to other data and applicatoins on mobile devices. That is, you can get to a map from other “places” on the device, say from a search from contacts database.

Nokia’s new offering - smart2go (which works on GPS-enabled or not-enabled devices) will include a desktop tool (think iTunes for downloading data,
accessories (to plug it into cars, etc. and will include a free downloadable client with free mapping.

The business model will be to turn that free platform, into money. It will be monetized by upselling to fancier (traffic, turn by turn) services. The mobile devices, he imagines will plug into a car’s speakers, screen from car just like a laptop plugs into a full sized keyboard, mouse, monitor.

The future he concludes is not one of navigation, but of location experiences, of what some would call LBS or what we at Directions might call location intelligence.

Published Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Written by Adena Schutzberg