Everybody has a maps app these days, some better than others. Nokia has been known to have some pretty decent maps itself, but it could use some rebranding magic. What does anybody using a maps app do with it? They either go here or there. Since there is kind of a bad name for an app, Nokia has gone with the slightly less bad HERE.
Nokia announced today that it's rolling its maps and digital location services into one service called HERE. It will encompass anything and everything maps into a single brand that will be used across the Web and various mobile devices.
"People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia's location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world," said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. "Additionally, with HERE we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service."
As part of its new initiative, Nokia will be branching out its maps into new territory. In the coming weeks, Nokia will be launching HERE maps on iOS. It will be one more map app that Apple can point its customers to as it works on making a decent app itself.
Interestingly enough, Nokia has also pledged support for Mozilla's open source Firefox OS. There will be an HTML5 HERE app available on the Mozilla Marketplace early next year when the first FIrefox OS devices launch.
"Mozilla is a leader in HTML5, building the Web as a platform for developing compelling applications, and location is a key part of that platform," said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Vice President of Products. "We are excited to work with Nokia as the combination of Firefox OS and HERE's location platform provides rich possibilities for mobile application developers to create amazing experiences for users."
Android isn't being left out of the fun either. Nokia is working on a HERE SDK for Android OEMs that should be available by early next year. Device manufacturers can use the SDK to create built-in map and location-based applications using Nokia's maps content.
The launch of HERE isn't the only thing that Nokia has going for it today. To help foster the 3D capabilities in HERE, Nokia is acquiring Berkeley, California-based earthmine. The company, much like Google Street View, captures 3D data with car mounted cameras and creates 3D street-level view maps.
In all honesty, this is the best possible move Nokia can make at the moment. The company's hardware business is suffering, and the soon to be released Lumia 920 Windows Phone may not be as huge as of a hit as the company hopes. Expanding into mobile services like mapping and location services, especially when the Nokia Maps brand is already pretty strong, can only be a good thing.
You can try out the HTML5 version of Here maps in your browser right now. It works on any HTML5 capable browser which means that Chrome and Firefox for Android and Chrome and Safari for iOS should suffice.