Cellphone subscribers the world over will soon be enjoying real-time navigation thanks to todayâs launch of the Nokia N95 all-in-one multimedia computer.
Unveiled in New York to a 400-strong audience, the GPS-enabled Symbian handset promises to replace a proliferation of stand-alone devices with its on-board music/video player and FM radio, Web browser, five megapixel still/video camera, PDA functions and â importantly - Maps application. Expected to ship early next year at an estimated unsubsidised retail price of 550 euros, the N95 breaks new ground in the way consumers will gain access to quality up-to-date mapping, supplied exclusively by Belgium-based TeleAtlas. Rather than storing maps on the device itself or relying on a permanent connection to a network server, a hybrid software solution that combines the best of both approaches - smart2go - has been developed by TeleAtlas partner, Gate5. By selecting a location in any one of a 100 countries via the smart2go world keymap interface, a one-off connection to the Gate5 server is sufficent to download and store the latest street-level navigable mapping together with extensive Points of Interest (POI) information. This is then all accessible for viewing and searching, as and when needed, via the N95âs 2.6-inch TFT colour display. Indeed, so impressed was Nokia with Gate5 that it acquired the Berlin-based company just weeks ago. The rationale was spelled out at the time by Anssi Vanjoki, Nokiaâs Executive Vice President and General Manager, Multimedia."The Personal Navigation Device market is in a rapid growth phase with the global market size expected to reach 15 million units in 2006 compared with 8 million units in 2005. By integrating the maps and navigation capabilities into our devices, Nokia will participate in this growth. Nokia Nseries multimedia computers offer people new ways to explore their world - navigation and maps enhance this journey and add to the overall experience." The Nokia product launch marks a milestone on the road to a new market says gate5 CEO Dr. Michael Halbherr âThis is our first step into the fascinating world of location-based experiences, which are just becoming possible thanks to premium quality end devices with processors and memory of sufficient capacity, integrated GPS receivers as well as attractive data transfer flat rates. The openness of our products for a large number of end devices as well as the strategic superiority of our product concept will play a crucial role here.âAccording to Leon Van de Pas, Vice President Regional Sales Tele Atlas EMEA, the launch also gives TeleAtlas a strategic foothold in serving this emergent market. âAlthough weâve been active in supporting wireless LBS and Personal Navigation Devices for some years â for example, by supplying mapping for the Wayfinder try-and-buy application included with Nokiaâs 6600 handset, among others â this latest development takes us to the next levelâ, he told GEO:connexion. The mapping downloaded to the N95 is drawn from TeleAtlasâ fully attributed and quarterly updated MultiNet and Dynamap databases (visit www.teleatlas.com/Pub/Products/ for details), as well as compilations sourced from local map providers that have fewer attributes but are sufficient for basic mapping and routeing. The 3.5G broadband capability of the new device will, of course, come into its own in speeding the download of such content, but in areas lacking High Speed Downlink Packet Access networks, automatic fallback to GPRS should prove adequate for many users. Leon anticipates that the N95-based mapping service will be a winner. âIn Germany, for example, cellphone retailers are currently offering stand-alone navigation devices for want of all-in-one devices. For them, personal navigation is a hot seller and traffic generator and the N95 will be warmly welcomed âSubscribers who want more than basic mapping, route-finding and POI functions will be able to sign-up for an optional upgrade â dependent on the availability of fully-atrributed navigable mapping - that delivers en-route turn-by-turn voice guidance from their N95 device,. Looking a little further ahead, Leon envisages that navigation functions, integrated with local traffic and weather information services, will be additional value added options for users. It was its ability to offer almost global mapping coverage that gave TeleAtlas a head start in securing the Nokia N95 deal, says Leon â¦ and one it intends to maintain: âWe are constantly extending our fully-attributable map coverage and our POI database and search engine has been expanded over the past two years from around 500,000 location highlights to todayâs total of more than 15 million. It gives consumers directions to and information on an ever greater choice of local restaurants, theatres, etc. And by signing off with Nokia, it puts us in pole position to win more business in the wireless handset sector over the next few years.â Nokia has certainly pulled out all the stops with its flagship N95 (visit www.nokia.com for full details) and migrated mapping and routeing from being an optional and often expensive add-on or subscription service to an integral function alongside contact book, diary and so on. Other device manufacturers will doubtless study its market reception with more than passing interest. Pictured: French visitors to London will find theN95 mapping function a boon in reaching Thameside attractions such as Cleopatraâs Needle (L'ObÃ©lisque) on the Victoria Embankment (photo: Nokia)
Author: Peter FitzGibbon
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