The competition for Nokia’s Nokia’s comprehensive mapping service HERE is heating up.
Last month, the Finnish telecom giant announced that it was looking to sell HERE and the line of suiters quickly started piling up. German carmakers BMW, Audi Audi and Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz are reportedly all vying to acquire the popular mapping service. Now ride-sharing startup Uber is the next in line to put in a bid — and for as much as $3 billion, according to the New York Times, which cites three anonymous sources.
For car companies, highly accurate maps that HERE puts together would be useful for autonomous vehicle projects that many of these carmakers are working on. For Uber, which currently depends on Google Google Maps, owning its own mapping software would help drive its core business of getting people from place to place as well as aid efforts in its logistic business, such as delivering food and carpooling.
HERE pulls together highly detailed and up-to-date maps. The Berlin-based division employs 6,000 people in 200 offices. Nokia spends hundreds of millions to keep its maps fresh all over the world. HERE’s first name was Navteq, which Nokia bought for $8.1 billion in 2007.
But Google Maps is the preeminent force in digital mapping currently with an estimated one billion users and serves as the default map on Google’s Android mobile operating system. However, HERE dominates mapping systems sold to carmakers with more than 80% share of that market.
Despite Google being an investor in Uber, the ride-sharing startup has recently been trying to move away from its dependence on Google. It announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to work on mapping and self-driving car technology.
Carmakers also worry about Google, as the search giant is planning to launch an operating system for self-driving cars that any automaker can use, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal – similar to its Android operating system for phones.
Uber could likely afford a beefy $3 billion acquisition like this with its $5.9 in venture capital and strong revenue figures. And this wouldn’t be the first acquisition for Uber. It acquired mapping software company deCarta in March.
Outside of the bids from the German carmaker consortium and Uber, a large number of other companies have expressed interest in HERE — including tech behemoths such as Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
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