Nokia lobbed the latest salvo in the mobile mapping war today when it unveiled Here, a rebranded version of its cloud-based navigation offering. The Finnish handset manufacturer said it will introduce an HTML5-based Here app for iOS in the coming weeks and will release an API for Android developers. It also announced plans to offer Here Maps for Firefox OS and said it will work with Mozilla to develop location features for the browser-based platform.
Mapping is a tremendously promising market for Nokia, which has spent billions in the last several years to acquire Navteq and a slew of smaller players. And as I wrote a few weeks ago, the opportunities increased substantially when Apple fumbled the launch of its own mapping solution for iOS users. Nokia Maps could be a key differentiator for Nokia’s lineup of handsets running Microsoft’s Windows Phone, but sales of those devices have yet to make much of a dent in the market. Nokia is clearly all-in with Microsoft on its handset business, but it is wise here to expand its mapping business for smartphones to competing platforms.