A Nokia Powered Bing Maps…shocking? Not so much

kiev_c_RGBA post over at Search Engine Land today expresses shock over the notion that Nokia will power, if not outright replace, the back end infrastructure for Bing Maps. Search Engine Land contributing editor Greg Sterling had lunch with a person “with close connections to Nokia”, who argued that it will be Nokia and not Microsoft who will provide most if not all of the core mapping services for Bing Maps, leaving Microsoft to “mostly center on the Bing Maps UI”.

Sterling notes that details are and have been scarce, but that as far back as the original Nokia/Microsoft press conference, the two companies announced that “Nokia Maps will be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services”.

While we agree that the new partnership will affect the way Microsoft produces Bing Maps, we want to take the time to make a few points of our own about the future of Bing Maps:

  • As Sterling notes, Nokia already provides much of the core content for Bing Maps, they’ve been dealing with each other for years.
  • While Microsoft has not gone into detail, it has made clear on a number of occasions that Nokia Maps will be “deeply integrated”.  Why go to an “insider” when Ballmer has been saying it all along?
  • A partnership with Nokia almost by definition makes one of the mapping services redundant.  Something has to give, they’re certainly not going to go forward with duplicate services.
  • There’s still a lot of “wiggle room” left, and Microsoft has some valuable mapping properties besides the UI – Bird’s Eye, Street Slide, geo-coded PhotoSynth could still remain in Microsoft’s control, or even better could be folded into the core of Nokia Maps.
  • Nokia’s Ovi Maps has a 3D beta, which is pretty cool, actually.
  • As Sterling says, “most consumers won’t notice or care who provides the data and who provides the interface on Bing Maps — provided it all “works” as advertised”.  Exactly.
  • Microsoft and Nokia have been working closely on map services for a long time.  If anything, joining the two services may be one of the easier hurdles to cross as Microsoft and Nokia work together more broadly.