Posts Tagged ‘Nokia’

Nokia Withdraws iOS 7 Mapping Software

December 30th, 2013

Nokia has pulled its Here Maps app from the Apple App Store. Here Maps, while eclipsed by Google Maps and several iOS mapping applications in terms of popularity, was heralded for a feature that came in handy in times of limited connectivity or excessive data charges: offline navigation. Here Maps remains available on Windows Phone.

The decision to remove Here Maps from Apple’s iOS marketplace can be traced to iOS 7 and the alterations that the mobile operating system update brought to the platform, according to Nokia.

User experience

In a statement to CNET, Nokia claimed that “recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience”. Nokia suggests that iPhone and iPad users that are fans of their mapping technology use their mobile browsers instead.

iPhone users can continue to use the mobile web version of Here Maps under, offering them core location needs, such as search, routing, orientation, transit information and more, all completely free of charge,” stated Nokia.

Pressed further, a Nokia spokeswoman struck a diplomatic tone. She told CNET, “We don’t want to blame Apple or iOS 7 – the app simply was not optimised for iOS 7 so we decided to remove it.”

It’s not the first time iOS has become a battleground for navigation apps.

Apple dropped Google Maps as the default mapping application for iOS 6 in 2012, and instead issued its own. Tech reviewers and users were not pleased, by and large.

All Things D’s Walter Mossberg called Apple’s Maps app a “step backward” from Google’s offering, marring an otherwise positive review of the then-new iPhone 5. Among Apple Maps’ faults were sometimes inaccurate results and reality-warping 3D views.

Public backlash was so pronounced that Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the rare step of issuing a public apology. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers, and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” he stated in a letter posted on the website. In its wake, the Apple Maps debacle left Richard Williamson, who managed the developer team responsible for the application, without his position at the company.

New version

Explaining why the company made the switch, Cook said his company “had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up” to natively provide features such as turn-by-turn directions and vector-based maps. “We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard,” pledged Cook.

Despite Cook’s assurances, users flocked to Google Maps when it became available again as a separate app on 13 December, 2012. After the first 48 hours of availability, the app had racked up 10 million downloads.

A year later, there are hints that Apple is taking the Maps app overhaul seriously. Apple quietly acquired BroadMap’s talent and IP this year. BroadMap is a provider of geographic information system (GIS) tools for businesses whose customers include MapQuest and Nokia.


Why Microsoft-Nokia deal was long and arduous

September 4th, 2013

By buying Nokia’s handset business, Microsoft may have strengthened its control over the destiny of its mobile operations and gained a potential new chief executive.

But completing the $7.2 billion transaction, the technology giant’s second-biggest after the acquisition of Skype, was a lengthy process that was anything but straightforward, people briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, first approached Nokia about a deal during the Mobile World Congress industry conference in Barcelona this year. He emphasized to Stephen Elop, his counterpart at Nokia since 2010, that the software company needed to continue its hardware evolution by developing smaller handsets.

Integrating hardware and software, in the mold of Apple, was an important priority. But Microsoft also wanted to ensure that Elop, a former executive, would come along as part of the deal. Nokia at that point felt that Elop was compromised and arranged for Riisto Siilasmaa, the Finnish company’s chairman, to take over negotiations.

Still, the prospect of Nokia shedding its core business – the longtime pride of Finland – weighed heavily on the company. But the board sought to maximize value for shareholders, rather than letting pure nationalism govern its decisions. Overall, Nokia’s directors met around 50 times in person to discuss virtually every angle of the deal, from valuation to the potential impact on the handset unit’s 32,000 workers.

Much of the discussions were held directly between Ballmer and Siilasmaa, who met discreetly in Helsinki, London, New York and Seattle, among other cities. The negotiations featured a disparity of styles: Ballmer was his famously demonstrative and energetic self, while Siilasmaa was more reserved and polite.

The talks moved deliberately, with both sides taking time to figure out how the new structure would work and figure out how to unravel the commercial agreements.

This summer, talks between the two sides cooled, as the complexities of the transaction took a toll. They resumed in July, with a broad agreement on the principles of the transaction reached by the end of that month.


Microsoft-Nokia Deal Poses Challenge to Samsung, Asian Partners

September 4th, 2013

Microsoft Corp.’s billion deal to acquire Nokia Corp.’s mobile-phone business turns the U.S. software giant into a stronger hardware vendor, but also complicates its relationship with Asian device makers such as Samsung Electronics Co.

For Asian handset makers, Microsoft’s decision to deepen its ties with Nokia—reminiscent of Google Inc.’s 2011 move to buy Motorola Mobility Inc.—is the latest reminder that their software partners are also potential competitors, and that could push some of them to work harder on their own software capabilities.

Nokia is by far the biggest supplier of handsets using the Windows Phone operating system, but Samsung, HTC Corp. and other Asian handset makers also sell some devices using Microsoft’s software.

“This acquisition creates a lot of uncertainty for hardware vendors working with Microsoft,” said Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. While the deal could give Microsoft the ability to tap Nokia’s sales channels and launch Windows-based hardware products in a more timely manner, it could also put the U.S. firm’s relationship with hardware partners at risk, Ms. Lashford said.

Microsoft is acquiring nearly all of Nokia’s mobile business in a $7.18 billion deal. The WSJ’s Juro Osawa tells Ramy Inocencio what the purchase means for the tech world.

In an attempt to ease any concerns, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said in a conference call after the deal announcement that the U.S. company will remain committed to its hardware partners.

Microsoft is the biggest software partner for Asian PC makers such as Lenovo Group Ltd. and Acer Inc., but the U.S. company has little presence in the smartphone market. There are few major suppliers of handsets using Windows Phone other than Nokia, which uses the operating system in its Lumia phones.

Windows Phone accounted for only 4% of all smartphones shipped globally in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC, while Android accounted for 79% and Apple Inc.’s iOS took up 13%.

Microsoft already has a strategic business alliance with Nokia. Before the two firms teamed up in 2011, HTC used to be Microsoft’s closest hardware partner in the smartphone market. Now, most HTC handsets are powered by Android, and analysts estimate that about 10% of HTC’s smartphones are using Windows.

Samsung, the biggest vendor of Android-based devices, also sells some Windows-based products such as the ATIV line of tablet computers.

For Samsung, HTC and other major Asian handset vendors, the option of using Windows Phone could become even less attractive due to Microsoft’s deal with Nokia, said Nicolas Baratte, head of Asia technology research at CLSA.

“In the smartphone market, handset vendors don’t have any realistic alternatives to Android right now,” Mr. Baratte said.

Despite its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google has managed its relationship with handset vendors well. Google doesn’t charge them for the OS and makes money through mobile-based advertising and other services. For now, “Android doesn’t limit [handset makers'] ability to make money,” said Mr. Baratte.

Even so, Samsung has been working for years to find software options other than Android. The company has jointly developed the Tizen OS with chip maker Intel Corp., but it hasn’t yet announced any smartphone powered by Tizen.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, Samsung mobile chief J.K. Shin said Samsung plans to release a Tizen-powered phone in the third quarter, but recent local media reports have said the launch may be delayed.

HTC, meanwhile, is developing a smartphone OS specifically for Chinese consumers, people familiar with the project told The Wall Street Journal last week.

In the long run, Microsoft’s deal with Nokia creates the need for Samsung and other major handset makers to work even harder on their own software, said Canalys’s Ms. Lashford. But creating an ecosystem of app developers has proved to be a huge challenge. Both Android and iOS have roughly one million apps each, created by numerous developers around the world.

Microsoft’s relationship with its computer hardware partners was strained when it chose to release its own Surface tablets last year. Following the Surface launch, Acer Chairman J.T. Wang criticized Microsoft for competing against the Taiwanese PC maker and other hardware partners and throwing the industry into uncertainty, even though he later dialed back his criticism.


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