Free Maps From Google and Nokia Drive Vodafone To Shut Down Wayfinder

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The first victim of the free navigation wars: Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) is shutting down Wayfinder, the Swedish mapmaker it purchased for $30 million in late 2008.

It was the carrier’s goal to use Wayfinder to provide directions to both drivers and pedestrians, while overlaying location-based advertising to alert users to nearby restaurants or shops. The carrier planned to start embedding mapping applications on devices this summer with a location-based advertising trial coming soon after. But according to a report in a Swedish publication, Vodafone has decided to close down the whole operation, Engadget reports.

Clearly, the market has gotten a lot more complicated since Vodafone’s acquisition. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) both started offering free maps with turn-by-turn navigtation services on phones, and much more entrenched competitors, like TomTom and Garmin, are struggling because of it. Vodafone’s Anna Cloke tells Engadget: “We could not charge for something that others gave away for free.”

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