Stopping for directions may soon become a thing of the past, for directions to your destination will be literally in your hand, on your mobile handset to be precise. And this will not necessarily be some high-end phone costing several tens of thousands of rupees.
For the world's largest manufacturer of mobile handsets plans of having up to 50 per cent of its phones equipped with global positioning system (GPS) chips in 2010 to 2012. Michael Halbherr, the head of Nokia's location-based activities, considers this value addition as an opportunity for new revenue streams amid decreasing handset prices.
''We are planning to ship 35 million GPS units this year,'' Halbherr said, adding ''and many more location-enabled phones that use cell-towers to orient themselves on the map.'' This technology is different form the satellite-based GPS and uses the cell-tower in whose coverage area a phone is being used to determine its location.
''You will see few 'E' or 'N' Series phones without GPS,'' he predicted. "Location will ultimately be in every device, not just the half of phones with special GPS chips.''
Last year Nokia sold 437 million phones, and it expects the volume to grow more than 10 per cent this year. It sold 38 million phones in its multimedia range ''N Series'' and some 7 million ''E Series'' business phones. At present, five of its models feature in-built GPS while five more are in the offing.
Halbherr said his company's GPS phone strategy goes far beyond the phones themselves. It's part of a comprehensive strategy to make location-enabled, context-aware phones available across its product line, he said.
Beyond phones specially equipped with location-finding technology, all Nokia phones stand to benefit as GPS phone users move about and effectively update Nokia Maps in real time for other phone users.
Nokia Maps, the company's GPS navigation software and first introduced in early 2006, will come out with a version 2.0 for phones worldwide later this month. Currently, is only available for its S60 powered smartphones. However, a version for its non-smartphones is planned to be available later this year on devices such as the recently announced 6600 Slide.