Nokia Gives Ovi Maps New Direction — Free Navigation Forever

Some would argue that Google Maps navigation is a “killer app” on their Android handset. That makes me wonder if Nokia’s Ovi Maps would then be deemed a “killer app killer” — the handset maker today announced free map navigation (both walk and drive) forever on Nokia handsets. Google Maps is free, you say? Sure it is, but Nokia is one-upping the freeness with offline usefulness. And not just on one subset of devices either. The free navigation service is initially available on 10 different models with detailed maps in over 180 countries. Nokia also claims that their hybrid-vector mapping system uses 10 times less bandwidth than Google’s, which is a carrier’s dream. And the ability to use the navigation features even while offline keeps the consumer happy, too.

Nokia didn’t stop there though. Included with the new Ovi Maps are value-add services — traffic data and travel guides from Lonely Planet and Michelin are included too. Integrated into the system there is also a location sharing feature that works directly with Facebook, similar to FourSquare. It’s not a “check-in” per se, but it essentially functions like one — a quick share tells your Facebook friends exactly where you are.

The new Ovi maps currently supportsĀ these handsets: Nokia X6, Nokia N97 mini, E72, E55, E52, Nokia 6730 classic, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia 5800 Xpressmusic, Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition, Nokia 5230. Prior the Consumer Electronics Show, I might have dismissed this news as a non-U.S. centric bit. But after hearing how Nokia is committed to empower consumers in developing nations, the new Ovi Maps fits right in with that strategy.

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