Nokia launches GPS-equipped mobiles

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: After successfully integrating popular consumer electronics technologies such as mp3 playback and digital imaging into its mobile phones, Nokia will target GPS functionality as the next multimedia feature to be converged into its handsets during 2007.

Like digital still cameras and mp3 players before it, GPS enjoyed brisk sales over the Christmas period last year leading many observers to dub the technology the next big product category in consumer electronics.

Navman recently predicted the GPS category would double each year for up to four years and Nokia intends on capitalising through a suite of GPS-equipped devices including mobile phones with integrated GPS receivers, including the new 6110 and N95 from its consumer range, and the N330 standalone GPS unit which will be launched in Australia within four to six weeks.

“Nokia is well placed to grow in this space in that we have a number of different devices, not just personal GPS – we have the N95 mobile phone with built-in GPS, we are going down the path of standalone GPS with the N330 and we also have a Bluetooth wireless GPS module which connects to other phones,” Nokia enhancements business manager, Mark Dalton, told today.

Nokia already claims to have become the largest manufacturer of digital cameras, with over 140 million camera phones shipped last year, and a leader in digital music with 40 million music playing phones sold last year.

Nokia will distribute the mobile GPS products through its existing network of distributors and retailers including independent electrical retailers including Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics and mobile phone specialists.

“It is early days for us at the moment, but the market it is relatively mature now if you look at the line-up from established brands like Navman and TomTom and there are also some fringe players coming into the market.

“This is not going to be a stroll in the park for us because it is a very competitive market, but some of our distributors have told us that they think the Nokia brand will have a strong affinity in this space,” said Dalton.

Dalton said Nokia will continue to develop a wider range of personal standalone GPS products and will focus on integrating features which complement its mobile handsets.

“We could for example integrate Bluetooth handsfree technology so your phone automatically connects to the in-car GPS unit when you get in so you can make handsfree calls in the car. We will also look at live traffic updates and things like that,” he said.

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