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July 15, 2008

Location-based services shift into top gear

INTERNATIONAL – At the tail-end of last week Nokia’s acquisition of pioneering digital map maker NAVTEQ was finally rubber-stamped. Sure, mammoth deals such as this are strategic and smart on a number of levels, but what’s most interesting about Nokia’s purchase of NAVTEQ from my perspective as a user is the huge emphasis on innovation this promises with relation to the rapid evolution of location-based services.

Many of us are beginning to witness first-hand the infant stages of this new era of mobile interaction with our surroundings, with cutting-edge new concepts such as Nokia Chat (instant messaging GPS pin-pointing) sprouting up more and more. And now that the NAVTEQ deal has gone through, Nokia will be able to push its vision of contextualizing the Internet via mobile services far harder than before. Echoed by Niklas Savander, Executive Vice President for Services & Software:

“NAVTEQ’s map data already play an important role in Nokia Maps service, which brings downloadable maps, voice-guided navigation and other context-aware web services to people’s pockets. Now that the acquisition has been completed, this role will become even more important as context-aware Internet services grow”

Fact is, location-based services (LBS) aren’t a hollow promise anymore, with the proliferation of GPS, advanced mapping and fast mobile Internet connection speeds. And that’s perhaps what’s most exciting – the building blocks, the technology, it’s all in place and ripe for innovating. So with around 3,000 people joining the Nokia fold via NAVTEQ, the talent pool has increased and the focus is sharper than ever. Will we see an overnight explosion in the number of context-aware services. Not likely, but the curve is bending upwards, fast. Plus, more importantly the sorts of applications we’re going to witness over the coming months and years are primed to significantly morph our mobile behavior, for the better.

What do you think about location based services, and the evolution of context-aware Internet-led applications? Let us know in the comments section below.

Photo from Ack Ook