Vipul Mehrotra, the Director and Head of Smart Devices at Nokia's India Sales Unit led a press conference at The Marriott in Pune on September 12, 2012, talking about his company's quest to present location aware solutions to enrich their smartphone users' experience.
Vipul began by emphasizing on Nokia's glittering past successes of dominating the initial stages in the evolution of mobile phones – the first one, which witnessed voice going wireless and the second, which found internet access going wireless. He explained that the current generation was all about mobiles detecting useful information about locations to which they are carried.
Sensing the World Around You
Nokia made their objective crystal clear – they want to establish smartphone market leadership in the current mobile generation through attractive services that include both location aware and entertainment apps.
The chief location aware apps are Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia City Lens, all which are a part of the Lumia-series smartphones.
Nokia Maps is their comprehensive mapping product, which is designed to function offline after enough area-related map data has been previously downloaded onto their devices.
Nokia Drive provides turn-by-turn (TBT) voice guided navigation for drivers maneuvering through key cities.
Nokia City Lens, one of the biggest leaps by Nokia, is an augmented reality app that superimposes indications of points of interest over visuals of the surroundings. This app emerged from its beta version around a week before the conference. In the words of Nokia, "seeing a place of interest through augmented reality provides a wealth of information not available with the naked eye, allowing you to see the world around you using your smartphone instead of having to perform web searches."
The company said their apps were backed by the world's largest database of maps, and that "Google and Bing were following them". They believe their 2007 acquisition of navigational map provider Navteq was crucial in that aspect.
Additionally, their ever-changing location data is updated by information gleaned from several probes that include:
- Car navigation devices, 80% of which use Nokia's map database
- Users of Yahoo and Bing maps
- Users of Mapquest, particularly in the US
- Users of location apps on all Microsoft and Nokia-based smartphones, which include the entry-level Asha smartphones
- Social shares made from devices used in and around potential points of interest
When asked about privacy issues that could potentially spring up from data collection, Nokia claimed they obtain and aggregate location information anonymously through GPS-enabled devices and Facebook shares or Foursquare checkins.
This information is used to ascertain points of interest like restaurants, hospitals and shopping malls. To make the information doubly reliable, Navteq personnel travel to new places which are suggested by their data collection exercises and add such points to their existing database.
Nokia looks determined to make their comprehensive location services the solution for the “where” question that comes to people's minds, just as Facebook answers the “who” question and Google or Bing answer the “what” question.
On Nokia Making Inroads into the Smartphone Market
Nokia has made a bold entry into the smartphone market with its latest offering, the Lumia 920. It is quite a formidable smartphone, with PureMotion HD+ display, an 8.7 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and low light capture capability, and wireless charging. With the location aware apps, especially the Nokia City Lens, they stand an even better chance to boost their appeal.
Following Apple's lackluster launch of the iPhone 5, Nokia appears to have an opportunity to thrust themselves forward in the smartphone race. It is backed by a decent response to previous Lumia devices – 6.9 million of these have been sold since December 2011.
Some Facts about Nokia's Location Aware Apps
- 196 countries have been covered
- 91 countries are navigable
- 1 billion search queries are made annually
- 2.4 million changes take place per day
- 11 billion traffic probes are conducted per month
- 4000 Indian cities have been covered
- 7 million points of interest have been identified in India
- 1.2 million kilometers of Indian roads have been mapped
- Turn-by-turn navigation is available in three languages in India – English, Hindi and Tamil