Q&A: Nokia's plans for free Satnav domination

We spoke to Rupert Englander, head of services marketing for Nokia, about the mobile giant's plans to bundle free navigation software with all its handsets.

For those that haven't seen the news, what's happened or about to happen?

The primary message is that Nokia is making navigation free. Consumers can download maps to their phones that gives them free global sat nav for either driving or walking. It includes, in the UK, Lonely Planet, Michelin and Facebook.

It will be included in 10 devices at launch and we'll be rolling it out to a whole series of devices in the coming weeks. We're going to support a whole host of handsets coming off the production line, which is a massive logistics and operational challenge so to launch with 10 is a great result anyway and we want to continue that the N97 will be coming on 28 January.

Free is always good, but what's the catch?

The point is we want to drive scale in the number of people using mobile navigation, be it for walking or driving.

We are obviously the number one handset manufacturer globally so we can bring that scale to fruition through this sort of activity. Rather than making money out of a small number, [we'll be] making a small amount of money from a larger number, so we're flipping the economics.

There's also a huge monetisation opportunity for developers as well as advertising and a variety of mediums. At the moment, the principle focus is on driving scale. We're democratising sat nav for people so we can reach a much bigger audience.

So why is the time right for this now?

We've been doing navigation on phones for about two years now and we've certainly seen good growth from this in a paid-for situation. However, I think now we can really accelerate that growth and reduce that barrier.

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