GIS GPS Thoughts Transport

The dust settles on NOKTEQ

The Analysts views on the Nokia offer for Navteq makes some interesting reading. Now that the initial excitement is over, the collective view as excellently summarised by Adena at All Points Blog is in some ways surprising.


On many occasions these industry experts describe Navteq and for that matter Tele Atlas as GPS companies, clearly demonstrating a lack of understanding of the GI / PND market.

Navteq and Tele Atlas are classic examples of the “Data is the Intel Inside” O’Reilly-ism, provided a crucial element to a larger solution not just in the navigation space, but to a lesser extent web-mapping, and even professional GIS. It’s interesting however that neither company while still independent was able to achieve brand recognition, to the extent it registered with the consumer – one did not hear “Sorry I will only buy your device if it has Tele Atlas data”.

Clearly Nokia are positioning Navigation, Maps and LBS even as a major part of their offering, in Europe marketing a Nokia PND which competes directly with Tom-Tom. But Nokia (and Tom-Tom) realises I’m sure that the future of personal navigation will increasingly be off-board navigation delivered to mobile devices perhaps delivered through channels independent of both the mobile industry and the automotive industry who are too conservative in their approach.

For the PND potential alone this deals make sense for Tom-Tom and Nokia as they provide control over a major cost of their solutions, what will be interesting in the future will be the relative contribution made by “Cloud” collected data, as organisations like OpenStreetMap, and the new generation of devices start to collect data themselves as they are used. If this grows as rapidly as some expect, it will make there acquisitions appear even more expensive.

Written and submitted from the BA Lounge, Heathrow Airport, using the BTOpenzone 802.11 network.

14 replies on “The dust settles on NOKTEQ”

Hi Duncan – I’m not so sure..

OS and Apple no I don’t see that as it does not scale as a relationship, OS only has data for England, Wales and Scotland… However I don’t think a Nokia owned Navteq will be so quick to cut off supply to other manufactures. Both the Tom-Tom and Navteq deals I think are more about cost control than restricting the market.


Hi Ed

Your view on cost control is very valid, but as a lot of us are aware there is a technology race going on in the mobile market place. In the more mature markets such as Europe and the US added value services are the key to making extra profits and increasing the monthly spend on mobile phone services by the consumer.

In this respect this is a smart move by Nokia despite the price because they control the hardware and premium map data. I welcome the Nokia/Navteq tie-up, although it may squeeze some who are writing mobile tracking software. If Nokia were to produce a phone plus software (GPS/GPRS) with inbuilt mapping, and bundle it with a GPRS server as a Windows service or an http get with its own API as a developers kit, this would open the way for developers to focus entirely on backend systems and the business logic of tracking systems without having to worry about the mobile device, mobile software and mapping running on the device.

There is now a golden opportunity for Nokia to leap frog the mobile phone competition by providing the core elements both in terms of hardware, mobile software, and mapping. Your article regarding your visit to the Inform Norden conference clearly illustrates what is possible, but as with all such systems if they are to be a success either the system has to be completely open or the solution supplier has to have a dominant market share where customer critical mass is achieved for a solution to be viable.

With global warming becoming an issue, life styles will have to change and in particular how we travel. The core building blocks both in terms of hardware, software and data will be crucial, and are the foundation for building advanced integrated mobile location based solutions. In this respect Nokia now tick all the boxes, where Apple and others do not!

I do believe in the coming years it will be the private sector that takes the lead, as governments wake up to the fact and the significance of global warming and the implications for travel! It hasnâ??t happened yet but in the next five or ten years politicians are going to start to press the panic buttons and Nokia will be one if not the major technology company who are in a near perfect strategic position, not only to provide integrated mobile solutions but equally important in a position to deliver!

The key element for Nokia will be the ability to embed their map data on their mobile devices, where the competition will be reliant on providing map data from a server. Even with bandwidths increasing the backbone and mobile communications networks in most countries will not meet the data volumes required for slick mobile mapping solutions for at least ten years minimum and you still have the problem of network coverage. In this respect Microsoft and Google missed a trick here by not acquiring Navteq.

I do believe Nokia has slipped under Microsoft and Googleâ??s radar in the battle of location based data and mobile mapping solutions, as both Microsoft and Googleâ??s location based technologies are totally reliant on server technologies and the communication links between client and server, where a future Nokia solution would only be partially reliant by way of the application running client side.

In this respect regarding global warming and the trend regarding international integration and connectivity I believe will turn in favour of self-sufficiency at a national level and local levels as the effects of global warming start to bight, this is already happening in the energy sector as European countries are becoming over reliant on natural gas from Russia. I do think one of impacts of global warming will be to force countryâ??s to look at resilience and theyâ??re over reliance of server-based technologies. As an old warhorse of the Cold War I am only to well aware of electronic warfare and the electronic vulnerabilities of many systems. Equally we have already seen how vulnerable some of the UKâ??s key infrastructure is with regard to the floods etc and highlights just how fragile our current way of life is.

The GPS signal is extremely difficult to jam, this is because it was originally designed as a Cold War nuclear missile navigation system. It is a very different story for GPRS and WiFi and where would that leave server based navigation systems. Equally if nuclear war was a reality the EMP would knockout most electronic navigational systems so perhaps there is still hope yet for Ordnance Survey and their paper maps!

Whilst I donâ??t want to appear alarmist, strategic resilience will be an important factor in the future something that seems to be forgotten by many since the end of the Cold War. Just cast your mind back to 1970â??s and the three-day working week and electricity cuts. What impact would that have today or in the near future with our over reliance on electricity and IT systems? In this respect having navigation system on your phone that can work on battery power even if the phone system is down makes a lot of sense and who are now best placed to provide such a solution? Nokia, Tom Tom!


God help any of us who are good looking, well educated, adn leaders of industry. Not that I am any of those. Let’s not tag the GI profession as being fake. Vanity does sell: bottom line. However thoe good lokking folks may also be damn hot in GI.

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