Nokia completes navigation software company buy

Nokia Corp. completed its acquisition of navigation software company Gate5 AG on Thursday, just a week after licensing hundreds of navigation patents from Trimble Navigation Ltd.

Gate5 will become part of Nokia's multimedia business group, and continue to be based in Berlin.

Nokia announced its intent to acquire Gate5 in August and uses software from the company in the N95, the new smartphone Nokia introduced in late September that includes GPS (Global Positioning System) and mapping applications.

The Gate5 acquisition joins another Nokia foray into the navigation market. Last week the world's largest mobile handset manufacturer licensed 700 patents from Trimble and also acquired the exclusive right to sublicense the patents to other vendors.

The Gate5 and Trimble activities appear to fall in line with a new strategy at Nokia to try to own or control new technologies that are integrated into mobile phones. At an event last week, Nokia pointed to the fact that once it began integrating cameras into mobile phones, the handset maker quickly became the largest vendor of digital cameras. Yet traditional camera makers hold the majority of patents for digital cameras so Nokia must pay to license the relevant patents. "We need to be conscious of the cost of integrating these technologies," said Ulla James, director of intellectual property rights strategic marketing for Nokia, during the event in Helsinki last week.

She suggested that the next new cell phone function that will become popular is location based services. With the Trimble and Gate5 deals, Nokia is in a better position to capitalize on the trend.

Nokia plans to continue to support multiple platforms for Gate5 products, including Symbian, Linux, Windows Mobile and Palm, pointing to another unique strategy for the company.

Nokia is increasingly branching out into products and services that it sells to competitors. For instance, late last year the handset maker announced plans to acquire Intellisync, a push email software company, in a deal that closed earlier this year. At the time, critics wondered if Nokia would find it challenging to sell the product to competitors. Earlier this month, however, Palm Inc., a Nokia competitor, launched a device in Mexico running Intellisync software. Nokia also licenses its Symbian-based S60 operating system to other handset makers.

Nokia also said on Thursday that it has opened a sales unit for location based services in Hong Kong, targeting customers in Asia-Pacific.

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