More on Nokia/Navteq and UGC
Last time we ended up by describing the limitations of using smart phones as collection and transmission devices for communicating map updating information based on User Generated Content. We think the Nokia/Navteq solution for adapting User Generated Content to help improve the quality and coverage of Navteq’s map database will be shaped by these device/network limitations. Further, we think it likely that Nokia’s implementation of UGC will involve other partners whose skills, tools or platforms might be leveraged to expand Nokia’s footprints into segments of the navigation/advertising market currently unavailable to it. Finally, it is likely that Nokia will leverage Social Networking concepts as part of its strategy of making User Generated Content work to their advantage (and that of Navteq).
It is important here to remember that Nokia’s long-term goal will be to enable the growth of its own “AdWords/AdSense-like” capability across cellular networks. In order to achieve this goal, you may see Nokia reconfiguring Navteq (or perhaps moving some of its capabilities to new business units) to advantage advertising, which will become a core business for Nokia. It is our belief that Nokia will establish a business group, independent of Navteq, that will be responsible for supplying navigation (routing optimized for traffic) and location services to the operators of cellular networks. The services, eventually, will become an advertising conduit for Nokia.
Finally, since Nokia does not own the cellular customers or the cellular network, it will have to work within an environment where the network and rules for its use are set by a third-party. These unique two-sided networks pose challenges in terms of Intellectual Property rights, revenue sharing, and customer marketing in addition to a variety of considerations that make these partnerships difficult to initiate, maintain and dissolve. In other words, Nokia’s present position may not be as advantageous as many in the media think.
So, what might the future for Nokia and Navteq related to UGC look like, given these considerations?
I think Nokia/Navteq will push Passive UGC, where the device (in this case a cell phone) is a probe carried by the user. The application most immediately exploited will be traffic related. (See Nokia’s recently announced Mobile Millennium public traffic pilot. ) Aside from Navteq’s commercial interests in traffic and Nokia’s potential interest in understanding how traffic-related-advertising might work, traffic probe monitoring is the least intensive data use in the area of passive UGC. Conversely, using probe data and passive UGC to determine specific road geometry and to build enough position data to “compile” network attributes will not be widely possible for some time over cellular networks. It is for this reason that you might see a partnership between Navteq and Garmin, a company that could supply a platform competitive with the capabilities of TomTom’s MapShare for both passive and active UGC.
The direct collection of active UGC for map and business directory updating is a much more difficult question for Nokia/Navteq. The majority of today’s Smart Phones are not ideal devices either for capturing or annotating UGC-based map change information. Without repeating the litany of limitations described in our last blog, what are the likely, short-term solutions for this problem?
Nokia/Navteq will build a desktop client that works both as an application loader and as a map-updating interface allowing map correction information to be added at the desktop rather than using the phone’s keyboard. In order to make this system work, the user would simply touch an icon on the phone screen indicating the desire to make a correction to either a map or a route. The icon would be a switch to capture either the route ID (specific to that phone) or the bounding rectangle of the map segment involved when the icon was activated. The map segment, route detail or both could be downloaded to the desktop client allowing the user to make corrections and upload them. While many may see this as bulky, I believe that the majority of map corrections submitted to MapShare are created at the desktop and not on the PND.
A similar alternative would be to have a regional database (based on where the user lives/works) downloaded from Navteq and reside on desktop client. However the most promising alternative
would be to significantly increase memory capability on phones and provision the database (or a regional segment of it) directly on the phone, perhaps using a memory card. The potential advantages of this solution would be the presence of a local database that could allow personalization and potential sharing of the personalized database and routing.
Some limited active UGC might be collected over cellular phones even those that are not classified as Smart Phones. I suspect that these uses will be limited to evaluative comments about the result of the location services. For example, evaluating the results of routing the phone screen might look something like this
Similarly, when being used for local search (what’s around me), a screen could prompt the user to evaluate the results or add a new business name if one was missing. Of course, many wonder what would prompt someone to take their time to advantage someone else, without any obvious form of compensation. It’s an important question and where the benefit of Social Networks may show its face. Let’s think about that next time.