Battle of the Map Apps
Cecil is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
It’s entertaining to see how mobile phone comparisons have evolved. It started with mere text messaging; then it was all about which smartphone was faster. Today the trend of the moment is to compare GPS abilities. Let’s try and find out who’s good at what when it comes to GPS integration.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has recently launched the iPhone 5, a product that’s gone absolutely wild in the smartphone market. With a record 5 million phones sold in a week in the US market alone, a lot of mixed opinions seem to floating about. The biggest attacks against the iPhone 5 focus on the latest version of the iOS installed on it, particularly the maps app.
Apple is trying to get rid of almost every Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) app built in to the iOS platform. It has taken out YouTube and Google maps from all iDevices that run on iOS 6, and replaced Google maps with its own software. Apple stated that the reason for getting rid of Google maps is because Google wouldn’t license its turn-by-turn navigation feature on the iOS.
This feature is pretty popular on all Android devices, giving Google the upper hand. The iOS 6 software uses Tom Tom-driven turn by turn navigation. Though Apple claims that its version of the software is faster and prettier, users have been severely disappointed with the Apple maps. Major map features like public transport and traffic are available only in select cities, whereas Google maps has a huge database of cities and towns to provide data.
So who wins the battle, Apple or Google? My personal pick as far as mapping is concerned is neither these two. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) would be my choice of the best phone-maker with the best GPS software.
Nokia is a silent assassin when it comes to mapping. Apart from losing to Google in the “Traffic round” (Nokia offers traffic info of 26 countries, whereas Google offers 47 countries), Nokia overtakes Apple and Google in almost all the other features. The biggest highlight would be offline maps, in which Nokia allows its users to use maps without a data connection. Though Google does allow caching of map data, it doesn’t work anywhere remotely as smoothly as Nokia Maps does.
Now I did mention the “turn by turn navigation” both Apple and Google now claim to have. Let’s talk numbers: Google maps support turn by turn navigation for up to 39 countries, Tom Tom-powered Apple’s iOS6 supports up to 56 countries, and Nokia Maps support a whopping 110+ countries. This is only one area among many in which Nokia outplays both Google and Apple with its GPS features.
Now as an investor I would seriously consider keeping an eye on Nokia. The company’s next launch is going to be tied up with the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. This is definitely going to be huge event as far as Nokia is concerned. Microsoft will be backing them up, and the Nokia Lumia range of phones has already received a significant amount of rave reviews by the experts. The road ahead for Nokia looks pretty smooth, unless it takes an unplanned detour.
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