Updated with official comments from Nokia’s (1) HERE Maps team and (2) Facebook.
Ever since Nokia confirmed that it is looking for a buyer for its HERE Maps service, Facebook has been a frontrunner in that race. And the social networking giant just gave us further hints towards a possible buyout, when it quietly inked a deal with Nokia to power its mobile, messenger and Instagram map service through HERE maps.
Earlier in April, Nokia had confirmed that it is looking for a potential buyer for its HERE maps service. And while the company hadn’t disclosed any specific amount it is looking to get through the deal, Bloomberg reported that Nokia is looking in the vicinity of $2 Billion for the sell-out.
However, considering the immense amount of data and a rather successful mapping service, analysts have argued that the value of the deal could go as high as double the amount quoted by Bloomberg in its report.
And while Nokia confirmed a sell-out of HERE, Facebook has always been a front-runner to buy-out Nokia’s map service. Other notable competitors in that race include Apple, a car consortium, Samsung, Uber, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Yahoo. And while the list can be even longer, quite a lot of them are more likely contenders than others.
The news of Facebook and Nokia coming together to integrate HERE on those three mentioned services hasn’t been announced by either of the company. However, when asked for a comment, a Nokia HERE spokesperson told us,
We’re excited that our maps can be enjoyed by Facebook users.
A spokesperson from Facebook also confirmed the same,
We are testing HERE maps across Facebook to give us more control and flexibility in delivering a consistent maps experience
The new integration hasn’t made an appearance on Facebook’s native apps though. SO if you have Facebook installed on an iOS device, it’ll use Apple Maps for location sharing. Similarly, on Android device it will still use Google maps.
However, if you happen to browse Facebook through its mobile website (which is a rare event in itself), you’ll notice the HERE logo on the bottom-left corner, whenever you wish to tag someone’s location or share your own.
Thus, from the looks of it, it seems Facebook is looking towards HERE for an in-built mapping solution for all of its platforms. And that is pretty much legitimate too.
First, Nokia’s HERE maps is probably one of the best mapping solution ever built, and it probably didn’t get much attention as it remained largely under the shadow of Nokia as a mobile handset brand, which it isn;t any more.
Secondly, it would be better for Facebook too, to have its own, in-built mapping solution for all of its applications and platforms rather than relying on the device’s mapping application on which it gets installed. So if Facebook does end up buying HERE, it would also provide a better user experience to its users, as they wouldn’t have to rely on Apple/Google maps for geotagging pictures or friends.
HERE maps would probably be a larger deal for Facebook’s Messenger, which is now a platform, rather than other services. This is because, since Messenger is now a platform, an in-house mapping service integration would make it a complete platform, thus also allowing developers to build apps for the messenger platform with location-specific features like geo-tagging.
This is also not the first time that Facebook and Nokia have come together for a partnership. Facebook is one of several social companies that feeds data into the Here maps. Also, long back when Nokia used to be the largest mobile handset brand, the two had thought of coming together and develop a handset. Facebook and Nokia are already together in the former’s Internet.org initiative.