Nokia takes on Apple with mapping application

Nokia has announced plans to buy California-based 3D imaging company Earthmine as part of a plan to boost its mapping services.

The deal’s been confirmed by both companies, although no details have been given, and is expected to go through by the end of the year.

And it coincides with an announcement by Nokia of a new cloud-based mapping and location-based services platform called Here, designed to work across multiple screens and operating systems.

“People want great maps, and with Here we can bring together Nokia’s location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world,” says Nokia president and CEO Stephen Elop.

“Additionally, with Here we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service.”

In the next few weeks, Nokia aims to capitalize on the poor reception for Apple’s Maps application by launching a free iOS mapping service of its own.

Based on HTML5, it will include offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions – although not turn-by-turn voice navigation.

Nokia’s also announced a strategic partnership with Mozilla, with the aim of bringing a mobile Web version of Here Maps for the new Firefox OS next year.

“Mozilla is a leader in HTML5, building the Web as a platform for developing compelling applications, and location is a key part of that platform,” says Jay Sullivan, Mozilla vice president of products.

“We are excited to work with Nokia as the combination of Firefox OS and HERE’s location platform provides rich possibilities for mobile application developers to create amazing experiences for users.”

Nokia’s also demonstrated an Android OS-based reference application and announced plans for a Here SDK for Android OEMs in early 2013.