Nokia looks to grow location market, not squash incumbents

Perhaps wanting to avoid any accusation of market manipulation following its US$8.1 billion acquisition of map-supplier Navteq, Nokia has made clear that its intention is not to take market share from existing players, but to grow the overall marketplace.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley technology, media and telecoms conference in Barcelona, Spain, Michael Halbherr, head of Nokia's location-based activities, said the company planned to bring detailed maps for pedestrians to the hundreds of millions of Nokia phone users worldwide, enlisting the help of those same customers to keep its maps up to date.

"Mapping will go to the next level. That's one of the things where communities can help. We have the world's biggest media-capture device. It means people can capture content, put it on the map and share it with others," said Halbherr. "Owning a mapmaker means Nokia will be able to direct its own strategy in areas previously of little interest to a location industry focused on in-car navigation devices."

The two major suppliers of personal navigation devices (PNDs), Garmin and TomTom, both thought Nokia's involvement in location services would have a minimal impact on their businesses." Dedicated PND will be able, at least for a while, to fend off the threat from mobile phones," said Garmin's European head of products and marketing. "There's a good opportunity for selling these devices at least for a couple of years."

TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn added that his company could withstand competition from handsets threatening to take over the navigation market. "That won't happen. There will be a parallel large market for phones that won't compete."

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