Nokia’s not making any rest stops now that its HERE Maps app debuted near the top of the ranking charts in Apple’s App Store on Tuesday, earning mixed reviews. Instead, the company is aiming to expand HERE Maps to “all screens and OS [operating systems]” including, potentially, the upcoming BlackBerry 10 software from Research In Motion due out in 2013.
“Our strategy is to be on all screens and OS, we have not made any announcement about BB10 though,” Nokia spokesperson Reija Sihlman told TPM in a statement.
Research In Motion, BlackBerry’s parent company, was similarly coy about the potential of Nokia HERE Maps for its soon-to-be released devices.
“We are working with partners around the world who are leaders in their areas to bring the best capabilities and features to BlackBerry 10,” a RIM spokesperson said in a statement to TPM. “We have a strong and positive working relationship with TomTom as we build out the mapping application and developer tools for BlackBerry 10, and have not yet shared additional information about our BlackBerry 10 mapping partners or software.”
Still, even the mere mention of BlackBerry 10 as a distinct possibility underscores Nokia’s plans to become the go-to mapping service on mobile devices of all sorts, even those that are in direct competition with its new Nokia Lumia line running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.
Nokia maintains a list of mobile devices that its map offerings are currently available on, either as apps or a mobile website. The new HERE branding — which refers to all of Nokia’s previous map data under the Nokia Maps brand, and new features such as 3D views and community edited views — is currently only used to refer to the Nokia’s map app for Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) and its map app for the Amazon Android Appstore.
Nokia is taking a curious approach to Android, though, demonstrating an “Android OS-based reference application” at its HERE unveiling event in San Francisco on November 13 and promising to release an Android software development kit (SDK) to allow developers outside the company to build Android apps using Nokia’s map data.
Yet, to date, there isn’t any Nokia HERE Maps app in the main Android app store, Google Play (though knock-offs are there now).
Asked about when an official Nokia HERE Android app would become available, Nokia’s Sihlman relayed the following statement to TPM: “We have not made such an announcement,” and in lieu of one, pointed Android users over to its HERE mobile website, m.here.com.
Also, as it turns out, that HERE SDK for Android won’t be opened up to just any aspiring independent developer: “Initially the HERE SDK for Android will be available for partners like OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] in early 2013,” Sihlman said in a statement. Translation: Other companies, namely phone makers, will get to build apps from Nokia HERE data first.
Nokia currently provides map data under the Nokia Maps brand for Microsoft Bing Maps and, by extension, Facebook’s Places feature on user profiles. Nokia also made a deal to provide map data for Amazon and its new line of Kindle Fire devices. Nokia earlier told TPM those partners would automatically get upgraded to the HERE branding in the near future.
When Nokia announced it was rebranding all of its geolocation products and services under the name HERE, the Finnish company also revealed it had entered into an agreement to provide the default maps on the forthcoming Mozilla Firefox OS smartphones, due out in early 2013.
The first BlackBerry 10 devices are also due out in January of the coming year. But BlackBerry has relied on its own in-house mapping solution up until recently, when it announced a partnership with Dutch GPS company Tom Tom for traffic data (TomTom is also one of the providers of map data for Apple’s own much-maligned maps app).
Nokia’s two distinct goals — selling Lumias and pushing its free cloud-based mapping service out to users of other devices — have been a source of controversy among some users, though, with Nokia on Tuesday attempting to counter opinions that its HERE Maps app for the iPhone was better than the maps it provides for its own Lumia devices.
Those devices still retain the older “Nokia Maps” branding of Nokia’s location offerings, but not for long.
“Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia Transport and Nokia City Lens for Windows Phone are all going to be soon rebranded as HERE,” Nokia’s Sihlman affirmed to TPM. “Right now Windows Phone users already enjoy our great location experience although under the Nokia brand.”
Plus, as Nokia points out, its Lumia devices are the only way to get some of Nokia’s other unique map features, 3D and augmented reality views, a technology Nokia calls LiveSight.
“We believe that 3D maps are much more than just beautiful flyovers,” Sihlman said. “Which is why we invest more into a 3D collection of the world to fuel technologies like LiveSight. Currently LiveSight is only available in Nokia City Lens which is exclusive to Nokia Lumia.”
Still, Nokia plans to expand the availability of those features as well.
“You will know soon how this technology is going to be extended to other apps,” Sihlman said, telling interested users to follow Nokia’s “Conversations” blog.