Ovi Maps racks up almost 1.5 million downloads

Since making its Ovi Maps navigation service available free to the masses in late January, Finnish handset vendor Nokia has racked up 1.4 million downloads.

In the wake of its 2008 acquisition of location and mapping firm Navteq, which it bought for $8.1bn, the world’s biggest handset seller made mapping and turn by turn navigation available for free to a potential 83 million users. Since the announcement on January 21, Nokia is claiming 1.4 million downloads of Ovi Maps, with the one million mark reached at the end of the first week.

The top five markets downloading the new version of Ovi Maps are China, Italy, UK, Germany and Spain. While the top five most popular Nokia devices installing the service were: the 5800 XpressMusic, N97 mini, N97, 5230 and E72.

“This is great news for our third party application developers.  Within a matter of days there is an installed base of more than one million active users all potentially hungry for new and innovative location-aware apps,” said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president at Nokia.

“For the operators too there is a growing opportunity to sell more data-plans and a complete navigation package to existing and new customers,” he added, while Nokia said it is quickly activating a massive user base to which it can offer new location features, content and services.

At the recent re-launch of Ovi Maps in London, Vanjoki indicated that in the long term, Nokia hopes to gain greater revenues through the widespread adoption of Ovi Maps as a contextual platform for mobile applications, which will, of course, be sold through the Ovi store. Vanjoki said that Nokia believes the map should become “the user interface to our life,” marking another step toward positioning its mapping data and technologies as a key platform at the centre of applications.

And when asked about the potential revenue loss from making features such as turn by turn available for free, Vanjoki said the intention was to make a little money from a much bigger pool of users, than taking a lot of money from a smaller base. He also hinted however that in the long term, the platform would be good for mobile advertising, suggesting another, much hyped, revenue stream.

The big attraction with this new service is that the maps are available in on and offline mode. They can either be downloaded on the fly over cellular or wifi, or sideloaded in advance from the PC. Any maps that are downloaded are also cached so they don’t need to be downloaded again, and this goes for all the maps available for 180 countries. The service also features car and pedestrian navigation features, such as turn-by-turn voice guidance for 74 countries in 46 languages, and traffic information for over ten countries.

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