Nokia denies rumor Nokia Drive will be available to other Windows Phones

Nokia’s Communications Director Mark Squires tweeted,

Folk’s Nokia Drive will not be made available for other WP OEMs. It comes on our Lumia range and there are currently no plans to change that

What a shame. I’m sure there are many other people out there who are like me, happy with their current Windows Phones and would have paid ~$30 for a simple GPS navigation app with comprehensive map coverage. Nokia could have earned money at the expense of other Windows Phone OEM.

If it came to buying a phone just for the GPS, I’d buy a standalone Android device for the free Google Maps Navigation – the best mobile navigation by far. So much so I modded a HTC HD2 to run Android full-time. Now with tethering in Mango, I can even use it on the road sharing data to the Android.

9 insightful thoughts

  1. Long,

    I love your blog and your passion for the Microsoft platform. Unfortunately this entry of yours displays a lack of understanding of both business models and competitive positioning.

    Why on earth would you expect Nokia to license thier Drive application to other OEMs? Nokia is a hardware company. They are in business to make money selling hardware. This reality means that everything they do must have the purpose of differentiating Nokia’s hardware from that of other OEMs. Including the Drive application exclusively on thier phones accomplishes this stragic objective.

    The reason Nokia now find themselves in the mess they are in is precisely beacuse they lost strategic focus. Prior Nokia management teams deluded themselves into thinking that they could accomplish the transition from a hardware to a software/services based business model. We now know how that turned out. By the way that is exactly the same strategic repositioning problem now facing RIM.

    Kudos to Elop and his new management team for returning the focus to what Nokia does really well – creating killer hardware enhanced and differentiated by unique software and services.

    1. I understand Nokia Drive is positioned as a differentiator against other OEMs, but from what’s being shown at the moment it’s neither compelling or unique enough to be that.

      It may have been good on paper but I don’t anyone is influenced to buy a Nokia Windows Phone over another because of Nokia Drive. Other factors, such as hardware quality and camera are much more likely. If this is the case, such as is in my shoes where I’m not persuaded by Lumia phones, Nokia could make money off me by selling the app on the Marketplace.

      1. I’m not sure I follow your argument. On the one hand you say the app is neither compelling or unique enough to differentiate Nokia’s offering. If that’s the case – and having not used it I’m willing to cede that – then you cannot on the other hand argue that they would make money selling it. If its not good enough to be a differentiator then its unlike to sell very well.

        I agree that Nokia should be focused on building unique and compelling hardware. Of course one might argue that Microsoft’s need to have stable, consistent hardware feature set across all OEMs will make Nokia’s strategy much more difficult to achieve. Its difficult to see how Nokia would deliver a breakthrough – and differentiated – hardware platform without requiring a fork in the Windows Phone user experience. That is something Microsoft will avoid at all costs.

      2. In short:
        – It has less value than other factors as part of the phone purchasing decision
        – It has enough value to users who might be looking for an GPS navigation app

        Off the top of my head, one comparison to make (although maybe a poor one) is WiFi hardware. Netgear router + USB dongle might be a nice package, but Netgear still sells USB dongles individually so even if I use a Cisco router, Netgear makes money by selling me a good dongle too.

        In summary, why not appeal to both markets? Those who are looking for a new phone (Nokia Drive alone won’t make the sell anyway), and those who already own a phone.

      3. It doesn’t need to be unique; it needs to be exclusive. This forces other competitors to provide equivalent functionality in order to compete, and as a company that invested heavily in maps early on, Nokia already has a service and infrastructure built out.
        But fundamentally, Nokia make money on the hardware; if they didn’t differentiate the software, then they’re selling hardware based on the same reference platform as everybody else out there, and there’s no need to buy Nokia. By tying more exclusive features to Nokia phones, the value proposition for those phones is elevated over the other vendors, and they’re more likely to make the phone sale; allowing anyone to buy a $30 GPS application simply means that other phones become $30 more expensive after purchase for equivalent functionality. Not to mention the price you’ve proposed – where does $30 come from? Offering it for less than other offerings already on the market (Whereis with their wonderfully-priced subscription model (yes, that was sarcasm)) doesn’t make competitive sense and doesn’t help them sell more phones. It’s also possible the phone price is subsidizing part of the ongoing cost of map maintenance, which is a non-zero number. I think you’ve oversimplified the business decisions and looked at it like a consumer; but consumers want whatever, and businesses need to harness what they think they’re willing to pay for.

  2. One point is that I don’t think Google Maps and Nokia Drive are in the same league. If Drive on WP7 is anything like it is on Symbian it is a much more complete deal than Android, especially since you can preload the maps.

    Nokia Maps/Drive is the most useful thing they have ever done on Symbian. That and the camera is the only reason I choose an N8.

  3. Emm, Did’t All Major GPS Map (Like Navigon and Other Major Map App) Use NAVTEQ (Whic Owned by Nokia) Data , Should Navigon App (Whic Avaliable at the Marketplace) Pretty Similar with Nokia Drive (Whic Use NAVTEQ)

  4. Like jody said, when Nokia phones are mentioned; I only buy them for their camera. As for their OS – Symbian; going down the drain.Navigation, I prefer Garmin.

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