Nokia hints at Google Maps web challenge for iPhone/Android

Nokia Maps has long been one of the best elements of the Nokia smartphone experience, and now there are signs that the company is eyeing markets beyond its own devices and, in the near future, Windows Phone handsets. The company's official blog has flagged up the fact that the web-based Nokia Maps beta – found at - works just as well in the iPhone and Android browsers.

Now, that's no great surprise, given that it's a standard web app rather than Nokia-specific software, but the site does go on to ponder "who knows what's planned for the future?" Currently, when viewed on non-Nokia phones, the web-based mapping app will support route planning though without voice commands and turn-by-turn navigation.

Nokia has already confirmed that its mapping expertise will be integrated into future versions of Windows Phone, and thus available to third-party OEMs like HTC and Samsung who also use the Microsoft smartphone software. However, a web-based version of the system could also go some way to challenging Google Maps on Android and iOS, with a potential source of income from offering subscriptions to points-of-interest, navigation and other services (which Nokia users currently enjoy for free).

Nokia Maps is built on technology acquired in the purchase of NAVTEQ back in 2007, a deal worth roughly $8.1bn, and we don't doubt that the Finnish company would consider alternative ways of recouping some of that cash. Integration into Windows Phone isn't expected until 2012, though the Nokia Maps APIs currently used by developers will be supported in Mango, hopefully making porting titles across to the new platform more straightforward.