Nokia has announced that it will be giving away its Ovi maps application that is already pre-installed on many recently launched Symbian-based, GPS-equipped smartphones manufactured by the Finnish handset builder.
The application, which had been a paid for option until now, will cover up to 74 countries - with maps available for up to 100 extra countries - and be available in 46 languages worldwide.
At the launch event in London, Nokia's executive vice president, Anssi Vanjoki, said that the company wants to make using a smartphone for satellite navigation as straight forward and intuitive as using it to take photos and sending texts.
Ovi Maps will be available both online and offline and will use vectorised maps rather than bitmap based technology in order to improve performance and save stuff. It will come with advanced features like pseudo 3D view, turn-by-turn and voice guided navigation
The firm will be using the technology it gained back in 2007 when it acquired map firm Navteq for £5.6 billion. Nokia reckons that it has sold more than 80 million smartphones that will support the technology although one of its most popular models, the N95, is not going to be included in the lot.
The announcement by Nokia is going to have serious consequences on sales at Tomtom or ALK as more and more smartphones like the iPhone or Android-based models are coming with very cheap or even free Satnav applications.
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that both the share prices of Garmin and Tomtom fell very heavily in the past few hours with the latter losing a whopping 10 percent. Expect all the actors involved in the Satnav market to suffer from Nokia's announcement in the long term.