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11
Nov
2013

HERE is the good news for Nokia

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It is now about six weeks since the announcement of Microsoft’s €5.44 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset division, an event which marks the culmination of a startling decline in the handset “old-guard”. Motorola, Sony Ericsson and several others have all succumbed to the dominance of the two new operating systems, Apple’s iOS and the Google-developed Android platform. Blackberry Ltd is also on the ropes.

Rewinding a bit, Android improved smartphone performance, introduced new ways that software was dealt with on the handset (albeit in a model developed first by Apple), and reduced barriers to entry to creating handsets, wreaking havoc on the handset industry in the process.

Quite simply, as operating systems, iOS and Android were years ahead of what was around in 2007/8, when Nokia dominated the market with sales totalling half of all handsets globally. It is not surprising that many companies, (a good number of them European, as it happened) could not compete.

But Nokia, despite seeing its handset business ravaged by Apple, Samsung and other players, may still have a role to play (albeit diminished) in the broader device market, which now encompasses a whole new range of devices alongside smartphones.

One Nokia business, called HERE, aims to bring mapping and location to any operating system. And HERE also embraces open source. HERE is behind the Tizen ecosystem, which might be described as all-device operating system including smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, and smart TVs.

HERE claims that it is already powering 4 out of 5 in-car navigation systems, and its customers include BMW, Garmin, Toyota, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Oracle, SAP and Mozilla Firefox.  HERE also claims to be “the largest and most highly trained team of mapmakers on the planet - with 6,000 people in more than 56 countries.”

So Nokia’s legacy lives on (not that the company is dead, exactly) not only in the Lumia - which appears to be doing relatively well  -  but in mapping.

And some of HERE’s achievements are impressive. The company makes maps for 196 countries, making 2.7 million changes to them each day. Not only that, but HERE delivers voice-guided navigation in 95 countries and makes indoor maps for some 50,000 buildings worldwide.