Reports have emerged that Nokia may be getting a License for the provision of online digital map services in China. According to the sources, Nokia had had succeeded in talks with the Chinese government that will see it granted an official license for the provision of the online mapping services to the big Chinese market. If the reports are to be believed, then Nokia might as well be on its way to writing history as the first overseas firm to be granted the official license for the service by China. If the move should be taken, Nokia’s Ovi maps might just get a fresh injection of energy they desperately need but what has left many wondering is the fact that Google is nowhere near the claims.
Apparently, Google will not be competing if the reports are true, at least for the moment. Google had a nasty experience with the Chinese government over censorship issues as the communist government tries to shape its culture and governance through what it believes is protection from the Web’s influences. The Chinese government has thus been issuing bans and clamping down hard on many online activities. In May, the Chinese government totally banned the use and reproduction of the maps of China unless the companies seeking to distribute or use the maps are officially licensed by the government. But even in the event that they were licensed, the Chinese government has a stricter control of the internet, with a mandate to even decide what the companies map or what they can’t map.
It has emerged that the Chinese government is concerned about what it believes is illegal mapping as it fears its military secrets might be exposed if the unlicensed firms are allowed to mapped the country and distribute the maps freely. However, what the Chinese government seems to fear are its own people as consumers of the maps, such as the risk of an exposure of government secrets unknown to the public domain. However, it should be taken that the Chinese government is alone in seeking to control the use of its maps. Absolutely not! The UK is known for censoring some of its government backed Ordinance Survey maps and as such clips data on its military sites, while the US is as well known for coercing Google to distort information on particular places in the US.
Abscence of Other Players
What surprises however is the fact that Google and Microsoft did not apply for licenses, meaning that Nokia may have hijacked the opportunity at an early stage. That can only be understood in the face of Nokia’s declining business and its foray into the Chinese market may be a better way of jumpstarting its business in the big market place that China has to offer. On the other hand though, the move by Nokia signals only one thing, that despite the strict regulatory environment in terms of internet operations in China, the country still is a hot financial opportunity given the size of its market that western firms don’t want to miss out on.