Nokia and Groupon: Alliance of Desperation, or Pure Genius?

It seems an odd pairing, what with two companies struggling to meet investor expectations by themselves, and now trying to form a successful partnership, but Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) announced a collaboration that places Groupon Now! ads directly in Nokia’s Maps application on Lumia phones. Nokia needs Lumia to at least be competitive with the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its iPhone, which is commandeering the market, as we indicated in a previous post.

Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK)

With Nokia struggling to maintain any semblance of smartphone market share, and Groupon being under constant skepticism and scrutiny since it went public, the concept of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” seems to come to mind – and it’s a curious whole.

The Maps application is a popular feature of Nokia’s Lumia phones, so to highlight that with this may seem like a good idea. The concept works like this – as a user plugs into the Maps app and looks for a restaurant in a town, for example, not only will all the restaurants in the area show up, but those with a Groupon dal will have a “G” logo. When the user clicks on that logo, it will sho him or her the special deal that is in force at that particular restaurant – designed on the one hand to lead users to particular retailers, and designed to help Nokia save its users money and time while making its phone more informative and helpful.

“Nokia Maps’ mission has always been to make you feel like a local anywhere, every day,” Pino Bonetti wrote on the company blog. “We think that this is a perfect way to try new places or find great offers around you, in your home city or when traveling.”

This new idea is currently available on U.S. Nokia Lumia 610, 710, 800 and 900 models. Those with the new version of Nokia Maps may be left wanting due to publishing delays, but those with version 2.1 should check periodically for the availability of version 2.5.

Whether this collaboration will end up propping up the two companies in the mids of investors will certainly remain to be seen, but with Nokia stock beginning to turn around of late, would being allied with a lagging company like Groupon make Nokia look like a hero, or drag it down into the abyss?