Location, location, location
A major difference between smartphones and other mobile computing devices like notebooks, which is often overlooked, is that the former now usually contains a GPS antenna.
Nokia gambled significantly that this facility would be increasingly important for mobile phones when it paid $8 billion to acquire NAVTEQ - one of only two digital map providers in Europe. "Location based services are one of the cornerstones of Nokia's Internet services strategy," said Nokia boss Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo at the time.
A couple of weeks ago we saw a major initiative, building on that acquisition, when Nokia announced Ovi Maps - its own turn-by-turn navigation app - would be available free for all compatible Nokia handsets. This was, in part, thought to be a response to Google, which introduced free navigation in Android 2.0.
The next phase of Nokia's location-based strategy became apparent today, when it launched Ovi Maps Racing - its first location-based game. We haven't played it as it's only available for some Symbian-based phones, but Nokia says it allows players to create a racing track out of their own physical location.
It was developed by mobile gaming specialist RedLynx. "We had a chance to create a completely new type of mobile game with Nokia, which utilizes real life maps," said Tero Virtala, CEO of RedLynx. "As with previous titles developed for Nokia, Ovi Maps Racing has really allowed us to augment our knowledge pool."
It's interesting that he used the term ‘augment' as augmented reality is expected to be a big part of the location-based services mix - allowing users to view real locations though their phone's camera and have information appear on the screen, specific to the location.