Nokia ’s Location and Commerce business unit outlines its activities and maps out its strategic direction. This interview is extracted from QUBE’s Connected Vehicles Intelligence Service.

In October 2007, Nokia acquired NAVTEQ , a leading supplier of digital map information for automotive navigation systems. With location based services expanding rapidly into the mobile communications market, Nokia took a step forward by adding location based services into its internet services strategy. Recent re-organisation, towards the end of 2011, has seen Nokia establish a new division, Location & Commerce which brings together the Nokia and NAVTEQ activities to better serve the mobile location and communications markets.

To understand the way in which these two businesses are working, and will work together in the future, just-auto talked with Bruno Bourguet, senior vice president, sales EMEA – Nokia Location & Commerce and Christof Hellmis, vice president, Map Platform at Nokia Location & Commerce.

j-a: Could you define the new Location and Commerce business and where this sits within the Nokia organisation today?

BB: Location & Commerce is the third Nokia business next to Smart Devices and Mobile Phones. The aim of the unit is to build and monetize unique location experiences for mobile products, the navigation industry and the automotive market. Its mission is to help people on the move explore their surroundings, independent of how they travel, be it private vehicle, on foot or public transportation. This mission is driven by core areas of focus including Content (location data), Social Location Services (Social Location Platform and Apps), and Local Commerce efforts which will complement hardware, software and services with smart social location data.

j-a: What was the rationale behind the move to bring the two businesses together?

BB: NAVTEQ had nearly 100% of the market for the mapping business in Europe, but this had limitations on how to tackle issues such as search, multi-modal needs and customer feedback. Nokia has the platform and service capabilities to address these issues but needed the mapping content. In this sense it was an ideal match and together we offer a very powerful service offering.

j-a: What is the size of the combined operations?

BB: Location & Commerce has almost 7,000 employees worldwide. This includes around 5,000 NAVTEQ and 2,000 Nokia Services employees. Of the total employees approximately 4,500 work on Content with the remainder mainly split between Platforms and Apps. We are the only global location platform supplier to cover all Point of Interest (POI’s) for navigation systems for the vehicle manufacturers; this gives us strong leverage.  By taking advantage of our capabilities the OEM’s can be faster into new markets.

j-a: Smartphones are becoming increasingly important in the delivery of mobile services to customers. Does being part of Nokia cause any problem in terms of your opportunity to supply other smartphone manufacturers?

BB: We are an autonomous business within Nokia. We can supply any smartphone provider, we are not governed by Nokia. It is worth remembering that Nokia was the first to bring location services to smartphones. By bringing location and mobile handsets together we get the advantage of integration into the device DNA. Location services is just one area of activity. In other areas such as traffic related services we leverage many sources of information from our other partners.

j-a: MirrorLink is gaining momentum as an industry standard within the Car Connectivity Consortium. Can you explain your involvement with this platform?

BB/CH: Nokia announced Car mode in Frankfurt at the IAA 2011. It is a standalone application optimized for the in-car use of Nokia smartphones.It features an optimized user interface simplifying the access and use of Nokia Drive (voice-guided car navigation with Nokia Maps), traffic updates, music and voice calls while driving. Nokia Car Mode is the first commercially available solution supporting MirrorLink, formerly known as Terminal Mode. MirrorLink is a standard smartphone-to-car connectivity platform driven by over 20 major global brands from across different industries within the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC ). Nokia was a founding member of the CCC, and the integration of smartphones and their capabilities into cars is playing an important part in Nokia’s Location & Commerce business strategy. It extends the existing ecosystem and provides benefits and opportunities for consumers, automotive companies, application developers and advertisers alike.

j-a: Today’s OEM’s want users to be able to access services both in and outside the car. How are you addressing this need?

BB/CH: Nokia is working with Microsoft windows and embedding location information into the windows operating system. Other companies such as HTC and Samsung are doing the same. We have also partnered with Yahoo to expand our range of mobile services. OEM’s want to offer a multi-modal  experience to the driver and we are responding to this need.

j-a: Working in a global market must bring its challenges. How do you address the issue of local market needs?

BB/CH: Of course this is a huge challenge and first and foremost we have to comply with local needs. For example we were the first to offer mapping services in China. This was not straightforward – first you need a Class A license for mapping and location services. Then you need a local joint venture partner. Then there is the issue of local legislation which we have to work with.  We have to act as a global player but think locally in different regions of the world.

j-a: We know that NAVTEQ Map data is being used extensively in passenger cars but we hear that it is being used by Scania , the Swedish truck manufacturer to optimize fuel consumption. Can you describe how this works?

BB: Scania selected the NAVTEQ Map as it features the accurate, reliable and detailed road attributes essential to its innovative new Active Prediction System. By anticipating the upcoming topography of the road, Active Prediction optimises fuel usage by adjusting the cruising speed before starting a descent or ascent – resulting in fuel savings of up to 3%. The system is able to interpret features such as precise road geometry, road curvature and slope to provide the predictive information.

j-a: We also understand that you work with a number of vehicle manufacturers and universities to develop connected car technologies. Can you give an example of such co-operation?

BB: NAVTEQ has joined with three leading US universities to further the Audi Urban Intelligent Assist (AUIA) project. The aim of the project is to develop connected car technologies that reduce congestion, improve safety and make driving less stressful in rapidly growing urban centres around the world. NAVTEQ Map data will be supplied to support their development of state-of-the-art innovations and solutions for the connected car.

j-a: Navigation services were first offered in premium vehicles and are now being much more widely offered by the car companies down through their ranges and even in the low cost segment. What role is Location & Commerce playing here?

BB/CH: Nokia announced at the Geneva motor show in March 2012 that its Location & Commerce unit had been selected to supply global NAVTEQ Map data and content for Dacia’s new MEDIA NAV infotainment system. Having been launched on the Lodgy, the new MEDIA NAV system will be made available on other models in the Dacia range. By incorporating NAVTEQ Map data with its superior specification and broad coverage, MEDIA NAV offers an entry level system which can also be upgraded with additional navigation content via USB stick.

j-a: Electric vehicles are attracting a lot of attention these days but they have their limitations with today’s battery technology in terms of range. What opportunities do you see for Location & Commerce to help address these user concerns on range?

BB/CH: Nokia announced that its Location & Commerce unit will provide location content to Exagon Motors to demonstrate a range of features and applications powered by NAVTEQ Map data on and around the electric Exagon Motors Furtive-eGT. These developments show how ADAS and connected navigation can improve the comfort, safety and efficiency of electric vehicles. Specialist content allows the battery range to be optimized by identifying the locations of charging stations and taking into account factors such as driving speed, acceleration and the power consumed by on-board equipment such as air conditioning , radio etc. Gathered from diverse sources, real-time information on availability, compatibility with the vehicle, opening hours and payment methods of individual charging stations can be delivered to the car showing how battery range management can minimize driver concerns.

Being eco-friendly and enjoying the pleasure of driving do not contradict each other if you are doing it in a smart way. The example of the latest involvement on the Furtive-eGT is further evidence of the on-going collaboration with Exagon Motors which has already materialised in other areas such as safety systems and connected services

An accurate digital map, combined with positioning, can read the road ahead and, in addition to supporting EV charging station applications, also holds the key to a range of existing and potential ADAS systems. Key attributes such as height, slope, curvature, lane counts and markings, stop signs and special speed conditions are critical to applications such as Predictive Cruise Control, Adaptive Front Lights, and Curve Speed Control.

j-a: Looking ahead how do you see the market for connected car technology developing?

BB: Connected vehicles are only one concept. Looking ahead the industry will converge on core technologies based on web technology such as HTML. The industry is looking for a standard now that will become the common denominator. Developing web technology and delivering it to the vehicle is the next major development. At the same time we must keep developing rich content to deliver to the vehicle manufacturers.

NAVTEQ True is an area that offers significant technology development potential. Using LIDAR technology to collect more information about the roads for augmented reality that anticipates driver behaviour is an area that the OEM’s are struggling with and we are helping here – we are already rolling out this technology in 45 vehicles and this number is increasing. This is an area of future market potential that Location & Commerce is very well placed to serve.

This interview is reproduced from QUBE’s Connected Vehicle Technologies Intelligence Service