Nokia Announces Free Voice Navigation For Select Handsets

The personal navigation device market just got a bit more competitive. Following in Google's footsteps of offering free navigation to users of Motorola's DROID smartphone, Nokia recently announced its own plans to begin offering free map updates and navigation services to smartphone users. As Jukka Hosio, director of Nokia's services marketing, told a press conference in Helsinki, "We are offering global car and pedestrian navigation in 74 countries, in 46 languages ... Ovi Maps becomes completely free from this moment onwards."

With the announcement, Nokia increases pressure on PND manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom, who are likely to suffer as smartphone sales with built-in navigation capabilities continue to increase. In September, consultancy firm iSupply said it expected the GPS market to decrease for the first time in 2009 after enjoying years of booming growth. iSupply further predicted that GPS sales will continue to fall in the long term after a short rebound. By 2014, it is expected that the number of smartphones with navigational programs will exceed the number of GPS devices. Today, there are twice as many GPS devices compared to smartphones.

Nokia's PND features will become globally available in March on 10 phones, four of which are currently available as unlocked models in the U.S. These include the 5800 Navigation Edition, N97 Mini, 5800 Xpress Music, and E72. Additional models are set to follow. For customers who currently own one of the compatible phones, you can download the application from The PND phones aren't available through AT&T, and the downloads will not be available to phones that are locked to AT&T.