Vodafone's Wayfinder navigation service closed; but offers free e-books

Having paid US$30 million a little more than a year ago to acquire the Swedish mapmaker Wayfinder, Vodafone has now decided to close the handset-based navigation service. The company has blamed the free turn-by-turn services being offered by Google and Nokia as the reason behind its expensive failure.

The move by Vodafone to launch its own navigation service was perceived as ill-founded by many industry observers at the time, and it now finds itself as being the first notable casualty of the battle for market dominance between Google and Nokia. "We could not charge for something that others gave away for free," said a Vodafone PR exec.

Not dismayed by this self-inflicted black eye, the company has attempted to revive its e-book service--which has been languishing since its launch almost 18 months ago--by allowing its customers to download five titles for free.

Vodafone aims to capitalise on the release of high-profile movies such as Alice in Wonderland and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by offering free copies of the novels as e-books. The company said it would make available free versions of Stieg Larsson's book ahead of last weekend's release of the novel's screen adaptation.

However, only Vodafone subscribers with a recent Sony Ericsson, Nokia or '360 handset (or a Blackberry 9500) will be able to download these free e-books.

For more on this story:
Engadget and NMA

Related stories:
Handset vendors and operators stalk satnav firms
Vodafone offers US$30m for LBS developer
Nokia's free satnav offering is game changer
Google's free navigation app could drive out premium services

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