In January 2009 Vodafone made what seemed like a good investment buying mapping software maker Wayfinder for about $30 million. A year later it’s looking like a pretty awful deal in the wake of free navigation solutions from both Google and Nokia. Facing the inevitable, Vodafone is closing Wayfinder saying, “We could not charge for something that others gave away for free.”
Vodafone has also invested several million additional dollars in Wayfinder, so it can’t be easy to walk away. It’s unlikely they’d do so without being sure they could not compete with Nokia’s Ovi Maps. This really isn’t much of a surprise, especially considering Nokia’s huge presence in Europe. Google Navigation isn’t even available yet in Europe, but clearly Vodafone wasn’t going to sit around and wait for two free solutions to start eating their lunch.
This may be the eventual fate of all the carrier branded navigation apps. Considering the poor quality of many of them, that might not be a bad thing. Would access to a free navigation app from Google or Nokia sway you in your next phone purchase?