Nokia links up with Groupon to promote deals on phone maps
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nokia is promoting Groupon Inc offers on the maps on its Lumia smartphones as it tries to stand out in a crowded field vying for the attention of U.S. cellphone owners.
The partnership with Groupon, announced on Wednesday, shows Groupon Now! offers on Nokia maps with a green "G" icon. U.S. users can buy offers from their phones and get directions to the locations to redeem the offers using Nokia's navigation system.
Nokia is not sharing financial details of the partnership with Groupon. No other such deals have been announced yet, but in the future Nokia could look for different ways of monetizing its maps, such as giving phone owners easier ways to make reservations or bookings, Michael Halbherr, Nokia's executive vice president of location and commerce, told Reuters.
Nokia, the Finnish cellphone maker, has been trying to reverse its decline in the smartphone market by adopting Microsoft software, but has had little success against rivals Apple and Samsung.
Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 in June and said phones running the new software would hit the market this autumn.
"The primary intent right now is to make Windows Phone a competitive ecosystem versus either Android or iOS," said Halbherr, referring to Google's Android operating system and the Apple system used to run its popular iPhones.
Nokia vaulted into the navigation business in 2008 with its $8.1 billion purchase of Navteq. It claims that nine out of 10 car navigation systems use its maps. Such systems also compete with free products such as Google Maps on phones and computers.
Until now, Nokia navigation products have been applications running on Windows phones. With Windows Phone 8, Nokia's location platform will be part of the operating system itself.
Location-based services, such as directions on smartphones, are critical to Nokia's overall strategy even if it means that competitors get to include the services on their phones, CEO Stephen Elop told reporters in Chicago.
"It is to our benefit to ensure that many different companies use this, and there will be companies taking advantage of the platform who may compete with other elements of Nokia," said Elop. "But that has to be okay. It has to be, you have to think that way. The competition ... is not with other device manufacturers, it's with Google."
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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