May 25, 2010

Yahoo, Nokia Partner On Maps, Messaging

Yahoo Inc. and Nokia Oyj announced a partnership on Monday in which the two firms will work together to enhance their mobile Internet offerings.

The move could help the tech giants regain lost market share from rivals such as Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

Beginning later this year, Nokia will supply maps and navigation services for Yahoo, while Yahoo will provide email and chat services to the world's leading mobile phone maker.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Nokia CEO Oli-Pekka Kallasvuo said the new services would be available during the second half of 2010, and globally in 2011.

Although specific terms of the strategic alliance were not disclosed, Nokia will be the exclusive provider of Yahoo's map and navigation services, while its "Ovi Maps" will be incorporated across Yahoo properties, the AFP news agency reported.

Nokia, which produces roughly 400 million mobile phones each year, is the leading handset vendor in many emerging markets, the company has struggled to grow in North America.  Kallasvuo said that collaborating with Yahoo would help the firm better compete in the United States.

"Location, maps and navigation will get more mind-share, will get more attention in the U.S. and many more users in the North American market," he said.

"This is one step we're taking in making our position stronger in the U.S."

"We're definitely behind on maps," the AFP quoted Bartz as saying.

"We just didn't put the engineering power on it that we should have three years ago.

"We believe Nokia's strength and continued investment in maps and navigation will greatly enhance our existing products, enabling us to focus on areas that are core to our business."

"Location has just become such a big part of everything" and Yahoo is pleased to have a partner to "substantially invest in that area," she said.

Kallasvuo agreed.

"Location is a new dimension of the Internet," he told AFP.

The new partnership calls for Yahoo to be the global provider of Finland-based Nokia's "Ovi Mail" and "Ovi Chat" services.

"Yahoo's online expertise will bring exciting mail and messaging enhancements to millions of Ovi Mail customers across almost every country around the world," Kallasvuo said.

Last month, Yahoo inked a deal with Samsung, the world's second-largest cellphone company, to display its services and software more prominently on Samsung's devices.

Shares of Nokia's stock were down 0.5 percent, or 5 cents, on Monday, closing at $10.02.  Shares of Yahoo's stock closed up 0.4 percent, or 6 cents, at $15.54.


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