February 15, 2007 11:02 AM PST

Handset makers get in on location services

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And now Nokia and Motorola are getting in on location and navigation services. On Monday Nokia introduced the 6110 Navigator, a slider phone with built-in GPS chip. Using the handset's embedded software, consumers can view their current location on a map, search for destinations, find specific routes, or locate services such as restaurants, hotels or shops that are nearby.

The first set of maps will be preinstalled on the phone, but Nokia has also set up a Web site where customers can download additional maps from around the world directly onto their handsets. The navigation software and maps are free. But Nokia will charge a subscription fee to access additional services, such as voice directions.

Eventually the service could include other location-oriented services, such as live traffic updates, said Sven Koerbitz, a spokesman for Nokia. The company also said this week that it plans to make application programming interfaces to its software available to third-party developers so that they also can develop new services and applications that leverage location through GPS.

Nokia also plans to embed GPS technology in a wide range of its N-series and E-series phones. The maps and software are available from Nokia now, and the Navigator 6100 is expected to be in stores in a few months, representatives said.

Motorola is taking a slightly different approach to the market. It introduced a separate GPS receiver, called the T815, that when coupled with its new MotoNav software turns a Bluetooth-enabled smart phone or Java handset into a navigation device. The receiver is small enough to fit into a pocket, or it can clip onto a car's sun visor. The product will come in two versions--one for smart phones and one for mass-market Java-based phones.

The smart phone version will come with all the maps and navigation software installed on a memory card. Users pay a onetime fee for the memory card and simply slot it into the device. Users with Java-based phones can sign up for a 12-month subscription service that delivers maps and directions to their phone. In addition to navigation and local search capabilities, MotNav also provides live traffic updates. Eric Schneider, a spokesman for Motorola, said that additional location services would be introduced through the MotoNav application. The T815 and MotoNav will be available in the second quarter of 2007.

As location technology improves, RX Networks' Roy-MacHabee said, other handset makers and the cell phone carriers won't be the only companies vying for a piece of the location-service market. He also predicts that a large company, such as Google, Yahoo or Microsoft, will try to launch its own navigation and location services independent of mobile operators.

"With assisted GPS and predictive GPS, applications can be built from third parties that don't require information from a carrier about location," he said. "So it wouldn't surprise me if a big-name company came in and started offering their own service. And then the mobile operators will really be challenged."

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1 comment

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This is great...
Competition makes the world go around.

I'd take a look at Nokia handset just because they make the maps and updates freely available and only charge for voice guided instructions - something many of us can live without.

That may be enough to make me ditch my OnCourse Navigator setup (which OnCourse dropped so they could concentrate on cell based GPS technology).

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
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