Nokia Corp is rumored to be close to extending its relationship with Telmap Ltd for offboard GPS on its Eseries smart phones from the UK to other geographies.
The Telmap Navigator software ships on the Eseries from the factory in the UK and sources close to the two companies say talks are underway for a similar offering on the enterprise smart phones elsewhere in the world.
Of course, Nokia now has its own onboard GPS technology within its Multimedia dvision, which focused on the consumer segment. This is as a result of last month’s acquisition of German GPS developer gate5 AG. That division has also just launched its first phone with embedded GPS silicon, the N95, as well as the gate5 map presentation technology. However, the Enterprise Solutions division of Espoo, Finland-based Nokia has so far preferred offboard implementations.
The are differences between the two approaches. Onboard puts all the map info on the handset and thus requires some significant local storage capacity (London requires about 10MB, for instance). Yet offboard is a client/server implementation, where the server sits in a mobile carrier’s network and the client downloads only the route-specific information as it requests it, though there is often also a facility for locally storing frequently traveled routes.
Offboard does depend on a cellular connection being available, of course, at least for the duration of the route download, while value-added services like real-time traffic information and routing around traffic jams can only be delivered if there is a continuous link, though the latter is equally true for onboard implementations.
Offboard vendors also argue that their mapping info can be kept more easily up to date because it is held centrally. Offboard is obviously the preferred alternative for carriers too, because it involves them in the delivery of the service and generates more traffic on their networks.
The fact that Nokia offers both on- and offboard technologies in different parts of its product portfolio suggests how it sees the market evolving, with onboard being more of a consumer offering, whereas offboard is more appropriate for the demands of a business audience.
Spokespeople for Nokia and Herzliya-based Telmap declined to confirm any extension of the relationship beyond the UK. The Nokia source did add, however, that other competitors to Telmap in offboard GPS might have a more compelling offering for other countries so it will be on a case-by-case basis.