Nokia has long been at the forefront of mobile GPS, offering free software to consumers and arguably being the first company to integrate it into a mainstream handset in the form of the N95. Now it wants to go to the next level..
The Finns have show their commitment to the sector by buying specialist NAVTEQ for €5.7bn (€5.4bn net of its existing cash balance). The deal will officially close in Q1 2008 and NAVTEQ will continue to be run independently from Nokia at this time - though since it already provides the Nokia with mapping for its handsets the bond will undoubtedly tighten (perhaps eventually to exclusivity?).
It could also be the first of a number of similar industry moves as GPS technology gradually creeps away from dedicated devices and is subsumed by smartphones.
In related news, Nokia is also causing a stir by confirming it will release a version of its N800 internet tablet with WiMAX early next year. The wide area WiFi tech will be joined with GPS (see: convergence, convergence, convergence) making it a potentially barnstorming all-rounder, though any additional changes beyond this are unknown at this stage.
Now if only the Finns could make attractive products...