Nokia and Oracle Partner on Maps

After acquiring Chicago-based Navteq in 2008, Nokia has enhanced its navigation technology, reaching deals in the past year with Groupon Inc., Amazon.com, and now Oracle as a provider of its mapping service. 

After a Wall Street Journal report disclosed the deal with Oracle over the weekend, Reuters has confirmed an official announcement will be made today in San Francisco at the OracleWorld Conference. The deal will reportedly provide all Oracle customers with access to Nokia's Navteq service, expanding the presence of the navigation platform at a time when Apple and Google face tough questions about their own mapping services on mobile devices. 

For its part, Nokia is hoping to make significant inroads in the smartphone market, partnering with Microsoft to launch the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920, both running on the upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS. The new, high end Lumia models will not be available until November, however, leaving Nokia in a difficult position after falling behind sharply in phone sales over the last 18 months. The company revealed Lumia prices in several European markets last week, initially marketing the phone above the competing Samsung Galaxy S3.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Nokia had cut its price for its older Lumia models 10-15% in an effort to boost sales ahead of the launch with Windows Phone 8 in November. 

While smartphone pricing in European markets its generally higher than in the US, the unsubsidized prices for the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 figure to be about $650 and $800, respectively. 

Wired has a piece from late last week on the risk Nokia takes by declining to undercut prices of the iPhone and Android-based smartphones in its bid to secure a position with Microsoft's mobile operating system. 

What is clear about Nokia's strategy is the company's confidence in it's Navteq service. The string of deals with big tech companies is a positive sign, but whether reliable maps can help Nokia gain ground selling smartphones remains to be seen, as much will depend on the buzz Microsoft can create at its Windows 8 launch later this month. 

Nokia was once the world's leading mobile phonemaker, but as increasingly sophisticated smartphones reach prevalence among consumers, Nokia's bid with Microsoft will be a critical test moving forward.