Nokia has fallen far from its one-time perch atop the mobile industry, but the struggling firm has continued nurturing one key advantage over the competition: its superior mapping and location technologies. And this week, Nokia announced that it will broaden the reach of these technologies and open them up to users on rival platforms via a new service called HERE.

“People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia's location offering to [give] people a better way to explore, discover, and share their world,” Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop said Tuesday. “Additionally, with HERE, we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service.”

Nokia describes HERE as the first “location cloud service,” one that will deliver personalized mapping and location services to users on multiple mobile platforms and via the web. And despite the firm’s overly reliant partnership with Microsoft on devices—or perhaps because of it—this time, it's working with other platforms and partners.

Nokia will bring HERE first to Apple’s iOS—iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad—before moving it to other platforms, including Android. It is working with Mozilla to integrate HERE into that company’s Firefox OS via a new mobile web experience. And Nokia is purchasing Earthmine to integrate its reality capture and processing technologies into HERE to boost the service’s 3D map-making capabilities.

It’s hard to look at Nokia’s moves and not believe that this is in some ways a fallback plan should its migration to Windows Phone not work out. Nokia’s future could very well be as a much smaller firm that supplies superior mapping and location services to all mobile platforms, and the web, and not a maker of mobile handsets. That said, it’s unclear how it intends to make money on what is now a free service.

You can preview HERE now on the web. It’s pretty impressive.