Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator by revenue, is to close its navigation business as it could not compete with free services provided by Google and Nokia.

Vodafone, which bought a Swedish navigational software firm Wayfinder for $30 million in December 2008, said it would close the offering with the loss of 95 jobs across Sweden, Romania and Britain. Vodafone said the commercial proposition for navigational services had completely changed after the introduction of free services in the last six months. Existing customers on the Vodafone offering will be moved over to new services provided by partners such as handset makers. “People expect to have (navigational services) and they don't expect to have to pay,” a spokeswoman said, adding that was not the case when they bought the company. The business model of providing paid-for turn-by-turn navigation services has come under pressure since Google and Nokia announced their plans. Vodafone's decision to move into navigational services was announced at the time as part of its drive to grow mobile data revenues as the mobile market became saturated.