Apple, Google, Nokia: Battle of the Map Apps Reflects Greater Struggle for Market Position

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — October 02, 2012

Even though the Apple Maps debacle is not likely to cause the company a large loss of customers or market share at this time, it does get customers lost and tarnishes a brand with a nearly flawless reputation for customer experience. The app’s problems are so severe that Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an apology last week, and even recommended competitor’s products from Google and Nokia.

Apple’s failing is especially notable, being the first major release since the death of Steve Jobs. Would the same thing have happened if he were still running the company? Most insiders confidently say “no.” Cook’s full letter of apology appears at the end of this article.

Google It
Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt went on record when the Apple Maps issue was first discovered, saying, “We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

Interestingly, since Google Maps (up until now) was part of the iPhone since its launch, there is no app available in the Apple App Store, and Google is in the process of development, which is expected to take several months. Note to anyone who has not yet updated their earlier iPhone versions to iOS 6: Google Maps was wiped out with the new system.

Nokia Makes an Enterprise Move

So, with Apple Maps out of contention for leadership here, Nokia stepped up and made a deal with Oracle for its Nokia Location Platform (NLP) to provide worldwide maps for Oracle-based enterprise solutions.

This move, according to the Wall Street Journal, “is seen by Nokia executives as a route to significantly expanding Nokia's mapping services, which compete head to head with Google Maps.”

Oracle has developed a simple, built-in link between Oracle Fusion Middleware MapViewer and NLP. This link removes the barrier of customized map integration and extends the benefits of global maps for business use to Oracle users. 

NLP provides maps for almost 200 countries. By integrating NLP with Oracle apps, maps and business data can align to one consistent, accurate map on a worldwide basis. Oracle users will now have the opportunity to license NLP from Nokia for use in Oracle applications.

"Oracle and Nokia have a strong record of meeting business needs through scalable and flexible capabilities," says Jim Steiner, vice president of product management at Oracle Server Technologies. "Few data providers have the ability to provide both map data for analytics and integrated platform services for the creation of mapping applications in one solution. Nokia is the only provider of both map data and online mapping services that are integrated with Oracle products."

The MapViewer solution is a J2EE service for rendering maps and creating mashups using spatial data. It provides services and tools that hide the complexity of spatial data queries and cartographic rendering, while providing customizable options for more advanced users, such as developers of geographic business analytic applications. The integration of NLP allows users to easily include Nokia's map data into their Oracle business applications.

The partnership is sure to enhance enterprise efficiency. According to Roy Kolstad, Nokia’s vice president for enterprise Americas, location and commerce, "NLP is an advanced location platform with a unique global footprint based on industry-leading technology and more than 30 years expertise in mapping. It will help businesses save time, money and resources while allowing them to gain a geographic perspective on their business, enabling better decisions."

Lumia Price Cut

In another move to stay competitive, and in anticipation of the November release of its latest devices, Nokia cut 10-15% off the prices of two of its top smartphones (800 and 900), according to a report from Reuters.

Newer models, the Lumia 920 and 820, were announced in September, and Nokia is betting heavily that these releases will help them gain market share. However, as reported by Pat Brans for Mobile Enterprise, “Nokia’s 2011 decision to drop Symbian in favor of Microsoft’s operating system has linked the destiny of the Finnish company to the success of Windows as a platform for smartphones.”

Reuters notes that also crucial to success is competitive pricing “for Nokia to lure back customers, even though pricing does not seem to be an issue for rival Apple.”

Letter from Tim Cook

To our customers:
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

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