Nokia May Open More Robust Ovi Maps API to Developers

Nokia (s nok), which recently launched a new, free version of its Ovi Maps application, may also open up the app to outside developers via a more robust API than the one currently available, according to Dr. Tero Ojanperä, the company’s EVP of services. The company, which offers a basic version of the Ovi Maps application programming interface (API), is looking to extend its capabilities even further.

I ran into Ojanperä at the DLD Conference this week in Munich, Germany, where we got to talking about the launch. He was clearly quite pleased with how things have turned out. The mapping and navigation app has seen a steady increase in downloads, according to Ojanperä, and while he wouldn’t give me exact numbers, it was obvious that the initial response was much better than Nokia had expected. Which is great news for the company given that, despite having a head start in the mobile phone-focused maps and navigation space, has been losing ground to the mapping and navigation efforts of Google (s goog) and Apple (s aapl) .

When I asked Ojanperä if Nokia would consider further opening up Ovi Maps to outside developers, he said that was a possibility. I think it would be a smart move — it would go a long way toward helping Nokia win over developers to its platform.

Nokia has previously said that mapping and location are the underpinnings of all mobile experiences. “We want maps to be part of everyday life, and as a result, we are working on building a richer experience on top of the map,” was how Ojanperä put it to me in an earlier interview. A good example of what can happen when outside developers have access to the app is the Share Location feature via Ovi Maps for Facebook, which allows you to add location context to your Facebook status messages.

And in Ovi Maps, Nokia actually has a winner on its hands — especially in emerging markets, where mapping and navigation services have not yet been as widely adopted as they are elsewhere in the world. Even in more developed markets, Ovi Maps is a fantastic application. Having used it on a Nokia N97, I would recommend it to anyone who owns a Nokia smartphone.