Pocket-lint, “the largest independent gadget news and reviews site in the UK”, scored an interview at CES with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who revealed a bit of news about the the future branding for what’s now known as Bing Maps.
Elop told Pocket-lint that:
"You’ll starting seeing the word ‘Nokia’ on a map that you get from Microsoft properties over a period of time, (e)ven if you are on a BlackBerry device, who recently said they were going to start using Bing Maps."
But a Nokia-branded mapping experience sounds to be more than just an additional name. Currently, Bing Maps uses Navteq mapping services, and Navteq is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia, who bought the company in 2007 for just over 8 billion dollars, so Bing Maps has been using Nokia services all along. Navteq, while owned by Nokia, operates independently and licenses mapping services to Nokia, Bing Maps, Garmin, Mapquest, and many others. However, as Elop told Pocket-lint:
"In the time ahead, what you will see is, across all the Microsoft properties including Bing maps, more and more work will be done by Nokia."
While it’s interesting to hear Elop begin to talk about the rebranding now, we’ve been expecting some kind of consolidation of mapping services all along. In the original “open letter” from Elop and Steve Ballmer at the announcement of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership back in February of 2011, it was clear that Nokia would take the lead in mapping services:
Nokia Maps will be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services. For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience.
What isn’t exactly clear, as “more and more of the work” is done by Nokia, if that means less and less of the work will be done by Bing Maps, and/or if Bing Maps will cease to exist as we know it today, to be replaced by a Nokia branded version.
Pocket-lint promises the full “behind closed doors” interview with Elop tomorrow, Friday January 20th.