Responding to Google’s recent updates to the Android platform that brought a free version of their turn-by-turn navigation software to the Motorola Droid in the USA, Nokia have responded by releasing a free version of Ovi Maps for users in several countries.

Usually, navigation software for smartphones comes with a flat fee or sometimes a monthly charge. Google’s free offering actually caused such a stir in Wallstreet that Garmin’s shares fell by around 17% at the time. This was very premature since Garmin’s bread-and-butter is in fact aviation equipment and not turn-by-turn navigation for consumers. Nonetheless, Nokia have felt the need to respond and in doing so they will undoubtedly cause other companies to do the same. In fact Motorola include a free version of their own turn-by-turn navigation software on the Milestone, the European Droid.

Nokia’s Symbian OS is likely to control the global mobile market until 2012, but where it is losing ground is to Android itself. Analysts believe that Android will be playing second fiddle only to Symbian by 2012, sitting at around 14.5% compared to Symbian’s estimated 39%. Because Nokia prefer not to work with carriers it is likely that there will only be a small uptake of Ovi Maps . Unless carriers start subsidizing Nokia devices, things are not likely to change.

James Tromans
Contributing editor of, based in the U.K.