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Nokia and Google Vie for Mobile Web Role

With the cell phone fast becoming an Internet entry point of choice, the handset maker is grappling with Google over the wireless Web

The battle for Internet turf is no longer just a figure of speech. Nokia (NOK) on Feb. 11 announced a quartet of new handsets designed to more closely link global positioning systems (GPS) with the mobile Internet, bringing the Finnish company into more direct competition with Google Maps and staking a bigger claim to the emerging market for so-called location-based services. The announcement came on the same day that Google (GOOG) encroached on Nokia territory by demonstrating a prototype of its Android operating system for mobile phones.

Both companies are betting that where people are located will become an important part of how they use the Net. Nokia is trying to claim that arena with handsets such as its new, top-of-the-line N96. The device allows owners to shoot videos, "geotag" them with info about where the images were taken, and upload to a Nokia Web site that sounds suspiciously like Google's YouTube.