First it was Android adding free turn-by-turn GPS, and now Nokia has jumped on the bandwagon...
Starting today an overhaul of Ovi Maps will see Nokia open up the application bringing voice guidance for 74 countries globally across 46 languages, plus traffic information for a further 10 countries and detailed maps for over 180 countries. Throw in over 6000 3D landmarks from more than 200 cities and this certainly gives it a major step-up over the currently US-only implementation in Android.
Two further key points. Firstly, Nokia will allow maps to be loaded directly into a device which means no expensive data roaming costs if travelling abroad. Secondly, Nokia is opening up the API for Ovi Maps as it looks to tempt developers into jumping aboard the new service. Whether they choose to charge for the apps they produce, use in-app advertising or make it free will be up to them.
Speaking at the Nokia's live press launch in London today Nokia Executive VP Anssi Vanjoki admitted that he believed the loss of charges from abandoning the previously premium service would be more than made up by the third party developer opportunities it would bring in. "Something you have to give a little to make a lot," he concluded.
Available immediately, the new Ovi Maps will work with 10 handsets from straight away including the N97, 5800 XpressMusic and E72. The N900 remains conspicuously absent at this time, though from March all new Nokia GPS-enabled smartphones will be compatible.
So another nail in the coffin of TomTom, but in following in Google's footsteps has Nokia now forced the hand of other mobile operating systems? Let's hope so...