Amazon’s new Kindle Fire will have mapping services via a tie-up with Nokia Oyj, according to two people familiar with the situation, filling a gap in the tablet’s capabilities while snubbing Google’s popular service. The world’s largest Internet retailer, which says its nine-month old Kindle Fire now accounts for one in five US tablet sales, has teamed up with Nokia on mapping, the two people told Reuters. Amazon rreleased at least one new version of the Kindle Fire yesterday. Amazon will also add location capabilities to the new Kindle Fire, which requires either a GPS chip or a process known as Wi-Fi triangulation, the people said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak ahead of yesterday’s launch event.
Mapping services, which are popular features on tablets, typically include street maps, information about local businesses and sometimes traffic status. They can also support navigation instructions and third-party applications that depend on location information, such as travel services. Location capabilities mark the location of tablet and smartphone users. Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, which competes directly with the Kindle Fire, comes with GPS receiver chips to support location and mapping functions.
The first Kindle Fire launched last year and at US$199 costs half the price of the entry-level Apple Inc iPad, helping it rapidly gain consumer acceptance.
Analysts say the seven-inch device helps drive sales of digital media such as e-books and music, which in turn propels core retail growth for the company. Analysts and media say the device will compete more directly with the iPad. Although the Kindle now runs on an early version of Google’s Android, which Amazon developed into its own operating system, it does not integrate Google Maps into the device. That means users had to access Google Maps via a Web browser, or download map apps from third-party developers. A Nokia spokesman declined to comment and an Amazon spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. Cooperating with Nokia may help Amazon develop integrated, or “native,” mapping functionality for the Kindle Fire without relying on Google Maps. (Reuters)