Uber In Bidding War With German Automakers For Nokia's Mapping Division

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
uber in bidding war with german automakers for nokia s mapping division

For as long as Uber has been around, the TNC has used Google Maps to guide all from the airport to the party. This could soon change upon a winning bid.

Uber is bidding against a consortium of German automakers — the latter teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu — and a private equity firm for ownership of Nokia’s Here mapping system, The New York Times reports. An announcement by the tech company is expected to come by the end of May, deal or no deal.

Whereas Google dominates the mobile space with Google Maps at an estimated 1 billion users, Here succeeds in the automotive navigation space. The Berlin-based mapping company holds over 80 percent global market share of all built-in car navigation systems, spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to maintain and update the maps.

Here would be the latest hedge against Google’s mapping technology should Uber win. The TNC bought deCarta in March of this year, and joined up with Carnegie Mellon University earlier in 2015 to develop mapping and autonomous technologies via the Uber Advanced Technologies Center. The German consortium feels the same way about Google in its own bid for Here, and plans to license the mapping technology to all interested parties should it win.

[Photo credit: Uber/ Facebook]

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  • Chocolatedeath Chocolatedeath on May 09, 2015

    I am surprised that a company like Apple or Samsung would not just go ahead and get this for their own. apples map r to put it kindly horrible. Samsung could use this to differentiate it from the rest Android.also one other that may be interesting is afford I would like to see them do something like this

    • See 2 previous
    • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on May 10, 2015

      @glwillia Apple Maps still doesn't have an option to avoid tolls. Google Maps does. Apple also tells me to park and walk when I approach a private / gated / corporate area whereas Google guides me through and into the community, although it's not always accurate. With TomTom, Apple Maps can show traffic, but Google is still better since it uses information from other drivers using Google Maps (or Waze, a company which Google bought). I'm still rooting for Apple though. I like that I can ask Siri to "drive home" and she will load Apple Maps with a route. But Apple Maps needs to play catchup.

  • Chicago Dude Chicago Dude on May 09, 2015

    Here (which is an awful name for a navigational product - perhaps they should have called it There to emphasize that it is intended to help people navigate to another location...) was started when Nokia bought NAVTEQ. NAVTEQ absolutely owned the commercial navigation space and Nokia intended to bring it into the personal realm, buying up small companies and "integrating" them. Except that NAVTEQ was based in Chicago and Nokia added all these companies in India and Europe, completely ignoring the core team. Look at their job postings - their Chicago office has been effectively transformed into an operations center while all development is overseas. The people that built the product are all gone. It's no wonder it took them 8 years to release a mobile app. But that's not the worst of it. Google started charging websites money if they wanted to actually do anything with the maps they were embedding on their own websites, so naturally the people revolted and started working in earnest on the Open Street Maps project, which now has the most comprehensive mapping data in the world because of it. And it's all free for anyone to use. There's no longer any value to having mapping data. The value add comes from using mapping data. Real time traffic, destination routing, etc. Buying an integrated mapping company like Here is a fools errand. You'll never get value out of that purchase price. In the next 5 years or so, every single car sold will have internet capability, either built-in or through the drivers smartphone. The free maps and basic navigation will be right there, winning the competition against the slower, expensive rivals. In all honesty, Uber probably would be the best purchaser here, because they are ruthless enough to fire 85% of the staff and transfer the rest to CMU. The idea that the Germans would license an inferior product when the best you can get is free is laughable, but all too predictable.