Mobile search has been earmarked as the advertising battleground of the future, with all the big brands of search scurrying to gain a stronghold. Nokia has just joined the fray with two big announcements. First, they opened up their N series phones to allow easier third party application integration. And now they’ve announced the acquisition of Navteq for $8.1 Billion.
Navteq is a leading provider of comprehensive digital map information for automotive navigation systems, mobile navigation devices, Internet-based mapping applications, and government and business solutions. NAVTEQ also owns Traffic.com, a web and interactive service that provides traffic information and content to consumers. The Chicago-based company was founded in 1985, generated 2006 revenues of $582 million and has approximately 3,000 employees located in 168 offices in 30 countries.
Experts think that $8.1 billion is far too high a price for Navteq, and this was reflected in the 2 percent fall in Nokia’s share prices in Helsinki following the announcement. However, rumour has it that Google was also interested in buying Navteq, which would have strengthened their position in the local search market, to Nokia’s disadvantage.
Nokia’s acquisition signals how seriously they intend to fight for dominance of the mobile local search market. They are already the foremost handset manufacturer worldwide. This gives them the unique advantage of controlling the users’ access to the mobile Internet overall and mobile search in particular.
Jennifer Laycock at Search Engine Guide authored an article about how companies can capitalise on their competitors’ PR crises. In the article she mentions how Nokia’s opening up of the N-series phones is beautifully timed to conincide with Apple’s ongoing PR issue due to the iPhone being locked and Apple refusing customer service to any user who has unlocked their phone.