February 1, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Nav4All is dead; at least for the foreseeable future. The multi-platform, multi-language, navigation software with 27.5 million users in 56 languages has to stop working after 5 years of operation. The app has earned more than 250,000 downloads in the Android Market, but all of those users will have to switch to a new navigation service.
The closure is a result of NAVTEQ choosing not to extend the license of its map data to Nav4All. Breaking the news to its customers, Nav4All released the following statement:
It is not possible to implement data from another supplier in our Nav4All systems within the short term. The Nav4All navigation system was developed for Navteq data. Nav4All has therefore been constrained to stop.
This unfortunate incident serves as a warning sign to developers and small start-ups who build services dependent on another company. Someone can invest countless hours and a great deal of money into building a great product, only to have all the work rendered meaningless by the actions of another company. In the world of map data, which can be expensive and highly competitive, licensing can be hard to avoid. However, this incident serves as a reminder to all kinds of companies that rely on licensing deals that those resources can dry up instantly. I always thought Waze’s method of building map data from a user-level was a clever, economically-sound gimmick. It now appears to be a ticket to survival.
Navteq – a subsidiary of Nokia, who just happens to offer its own Ovi Maps – made a decision that effectively shut down Nav4All. This may be a move to encourage adoption of Ovi Maps on Symbian, but it has a ripple effect on Android and every other mobile platform. If you’re building an app dependent on another company, keep that in the back of your mind.