Ovi Maps 3D vs. Google Earth

With Microsoft Bing Maps dropping their 3D support, it seemed that Google Earth might be the only 3D option in town. However, Nokia has recently launched Ovi Maps 3D, and it’s a strong competitor to Google Earth — at least in terms of visuals.


The images are generated by C3, who creates them by taking up to 100 images of a single location, and then automatically generating the 3D textures from it. The result is an amazing level of detail that includes buildings, trees, and even accurate highway overpasses, as seen in the image above. It launched with 20 cities, many of which also include StreetView-like views in some areas.

The only downside to this technique is that many buildings appear to be melting, as shown here.


Still, the overall look of the cities is great! They’ve done a very nice job, and the coverage is quite extensive. The control scheme is solid, though there’s no SpaceNavigator support because it only runs in a browser.

The problem is that it stops there, as there is no way to extend it. No KML support, no plug-ins, no overlays, no API, etc. A huge part of what makes Google Earth so great is the ability to extend it with your own data, and that’s a big hole in Ovi Maps. However, I spoke with their team for a while at Where 2.0 recently and was assured that an API was coming soon, though they wouldn’t discuss whether it would support KML or not.

All in all, it’s a solid first effort and certainly is something to keep an eye on, especially as they expand their 3D coverage and begin to offer an API of some kind. Go check it out at maps.ovi.com/3d and see what you think, or check out their promo video below to see more:

Ovi Maps 3D Beta

Ovi Maps 3D Beta ( Now Photo-realistic)

Cities coverage

Nokia’s photorealistic 3D models of metropolitan areas initially include:

– Boston
– Chicago
– London
– Copenhagen
– Florence
– Helsinki
– Las Vegas
– Los Angeles
– Madrid
– Miami
– Milan
New York
– Oslo
– Prague
– San Francisco
– Stockholm
– Toronto
– Venice
– Vienna

(plugin required) – servers are in demand currently and might not get the full picture – wait a few days for the hype to calm down.


Nokia admits defeat

It’s official. Nokia has retreated from the smartphone OS battlefield, dominated by Apple and Android, and announced phasing out of the Symbian OS. But the company is not giving up just yet as it will be joining forces with Microsoft and switching to Windows Mobile OS.

Nokia was once a dominant player in the industry but has failed to innovate and dropped its market share to only 27.1% , according to Gartner. Symbian, an open source operating system and software platform designed for smartphones and maintained by Nokia, is a casualty. The scale is tipping now in favor of operating system providers and away from hardware vendors and the market will now be shared between three giants – Google, Apple and Microsoft.

This new development resembles very much what happened in personal computers market a few decades ago. In 2009 I have written a post discussing the scenario of market power shift to operating systems providers. Android barely registered then in statistics so it looked like Symbian was to become the open source equivalent to Linux. Now it seems rather unlikely and this title will most likely go to Android OS. The only difference between PC and mobile market scenarios is a large dominance of open source operating system but the rest plays out almost exactly like a few decades ago (ie. Apple vs Microsoft vs open source community)! This is one more proof that history tends to repeat itself and therefore we should expect many more similarities to PC market: Dell-like handset customisation, liberation of content and apps on mobile devices as with the advent of the Internet, emergence of new service providers that will eventually muscle out the power from operating system providers, etc. etc…


More details emerged on the Nokia Microsoft deal. It looks like Microsoft it taking a gamble for long term gains, paying Nokia $1B up front to switch to Windows OS…