Nokia took the opportunity today to post up an interesting entry on its Conversations blog called “Benchmarking mobile maps” (thanks to Tim Bradshaw for pointing this out). In the post, Nokia Maps team member Pino Bonetti compares Nokia’s Ovi maps and its turn-by-turn voice directions to Apple’s iOS 6 offering.
“Unlike our competitors,” says Bonetti, “which are financing their location assets with advertising or licensing mapping content from third parties, we completely own, build and distribute mapping content, platform and apps.”
Yes, this is a brilliant bit of pouncing on Apple’s map weaknesses by Nokia, but it’s also not un-true. In my extensive review of Apple’s Maps, I found that international coverage was one of its weakest points:
The biggest losers? Brazil, India, Taiwan and Thailand, all of which lose Transit apps, Traffic and StreetView. They also don’t have turn-by-turn navigation or any Flyover cities. 20 more countries are losing traffic data and/or Transit apps and are getting no turn-by-turn back.
“I think the most impressive difference, beside the ability to use Nokia location-based apps offline as well as online, is the number of countries where voice guided turn-by-turn navigation is available,” says Bonetti, presenting the maps below for comparison.
Nokia recently announced a partnership with Amazon to supply mapping data to its Kindle devices and Amazon is firing up an API for developers on its platform. Nokia, of course, just launched its new Lumia 920 and 820 devices.
The reality of the situation is that Nokia (whose Ovi maps are based on an acquisition of Navteq back in 2007) and Google have both been working on building out their mapping coverage for years, while Apple is launching Maps solely on the back of licensed data from roughly a dozen providers around the world. The importance of the work that its competitors have put in to make their maps accurate and to flesh them out with details cannot be understated.
Apple’s Maps have come under heavy fire from critics, including me, for being beautiful to look at, but suffering from a lack of accuracy and detail. A parody Twitter account is gaining steam already and a Tumblr of unfortunate collisions of Apple’s Maps and the real world is offering up hilarity.
Launching its own mapping initiative may have been something Apple needed to do, but it now needs to double-time figuring out how to fill in those gaps, pronto.
Image Credit: MANJUNATH KIRAN/Stringer