Among the numerous bidding reports which we have received so far Nokia’s HERE maps service, this one is clearly the biggest of them all. According to a New York Times report, Uber has reportedly bid a staggering $3 Billion to buy Nokia’s mapping service, marking the cab-hailing service’s first acquisition till date.
Ever since Nokia announced it is considering selling this digital mapping service known as Here, it has become a hot pie among giants from various sectors who are lining up to bid for it, in continuation of that hype, biggest surprise has come from Uber which has reportedly bid a whopping $3 Billion. However, that is still a billion dollars less than the value which analysts have predicted for HERE.
Uber, the world renowned radio taxi service has been expanding the scope of its services lately and aims to use HERE in its latest car-pooling service, Pool as well as in its logistics operations for delivering goods. It currently relies on Google Maps which incidentally also has invested in Uber and currently boasts of more than one billion mobile users.
In addition to Google Maps, it also relies on data from Apple and other companies’ mapping initiatives, as well as its own online information.
But Uber now wants to reduce this heavy dependency on Google Maps and has taken some steps in this direction recently, the most notable among them being the launching of Uber Advanced Technologies Center in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to develop autonomous vehicle mapping technology.
It has also acquired San Jose based mapping software company deCarta and hired a number of mapping software engineers in recent months.
It is not just Uber which is trying to reduce dependency on Google Maps. Reportedly the German automobile giants including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz along with Chinese search engine Baidu and an undisclosed private firm is also bidding for Here. Though Here may not be popular mapping software among consumers, but it dominates the automobile mapping market with almost 80 % global market share for built-in car navigation systems .
Interestingly, this is the field where even Google and Apple have struggled to establish their footprints but with little success. Moreover, the announcement of open-source software for driver less cars by Google also has led the automobile manufacturers cautious in over dependency on Google Maps.
Jeremy Carlson, an analyst at IHS Automotive, in Los Angeles
Mapping data is an important long-term asset for the auto industry,” said . “It makes sense that they would want to protect it.
The Berlin based Here employs about 6000 people worldwide to maintain the mapping and navigation systems with almost three million daily tweaks. It reported yearly revenue of $1.1 Billion or less than 8 percent of Nokia’s total sales in 2014, according to company records.
Jamie Moss, an analyst at the technology research company Ovum said,
It’s extraordinarily difficult to get this type of mapping data, Other than Google, Here is one of the few companies that can offer this data right now.
Even Chinese search engine Baidu, which seems like a odd one out in group, aims to seek a minority stake reportedly to build a high definition map of China, which has officially been banned by Google.
It already uses Here in its Baidu Maps for Chinese travellers outside China. It remains to be seen what would be the final outcome of these deals which are still ongoing and German automakers, Uber and Nokia have refused to comment on these speculations.
Nokia is expected to announce the sale of its mapping unit by the end of May.