Vodafone, Google Make Mobile Maps

    February 12, 2007

Vodafone and Google have announced plans “to develop a location-based version of Google Maps for mobile,” which should present users with a range of local search and navigation options.

Americans may be out of luck, however – the two companies only mentioned “key European markets” in an official statement.

You can’t really blame them, though. Through Verizon, Vodafone can claim only 23,230 customers in the U.S. (as of December 31). In Europe, it has upwards of 98,000 “patrons.”

Frank Rovekamp, Vodafone’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, hinted at that issue when he spoke about the Vodafone-Google deal.

 “It is a prime example of how Vodafone, through its location service and distribution scale, can complement Google’s products and unlock mass-market access to exciting services,” he stated (italics mine).

As for Google’s part in all of this, Nikesh Arora, Vice President of EMEA Operations, said, “Our goal as a company is to help people find information they’re looking for, so giving Vodafone customers the chance to find out where they are going while on the move is a very important step.”

Naturally, one would hope that Vodafone customers won’t get too involved with Google Maps while driving.

But the technology is set to make its debut in Hungary, and Wikipedia claims that “a bit more than one half of Hungary’s landscape consists mostly of flat to rolling plains,” so there have been worse ideas.

One nod in the direction of safety: “Google and Vodafone are working together to ensure the service provides customers on selected handsets with an automatic user-location capability.”