While Nokia would prefer to sell out its mapping division to Apple, no offer has arrived yet from the iPhone maker for the competitive service, called Nokia Here.
Be that as it may, a window of opportunity has now opened for Uber, a privately-held transportation service, which has reportedly submitted a $3 billion offer for Nokia Here, The New York Times said Friday citing three people with knowledge of the offer.
But Nokia has other big name suitors lined up as well, including one from a powerful consortium made up of Chinese web services company Baidu and automakers BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. It’s unclear whether Apple, whose own mapping service relies heavily on third-party data, is still in the running.
Mercedes and other carmakers need Nokia Here to power their autonomous vehicles, which are already being tested.
One source told the newspaper that the German consortium wants to give others access to Nokia’s mapping service under a licensing agreement, “so that the business can maintain its global reach and remain the primary competitor to Google Maps.”
Reporters Mark Scott and Mike Isaac write that a separate bid from an undisclosed private equity firm has also been submitted, while Facebook and Microsoft have shown interest in Nokia Here, too. Nokia should announce the sale of the mapping unit by the end of this month.
The Wall Street Journal’s Douglas Macmillan and William Boston posit that Uber’s ulterior motive is avoid becoming dependent on Google’s mapping technology as it spreads beyond taxi rides. Uber increasingly considers itself a logistics company.
It’s worth noting that Google’s venture arm has invested in Uber. “Their relationship with Google has clearly soured,” said Manhattan Venture Partners’ Max Wolff.
In addition to Google, Uber relies on mapping data from Apple and other providers.
Given the scope and accuracy of its points of interests, business information, real-time traffic information and other mapping data, it comes as no surprise that Nokia’s mapping business is considered the chief competitor to Google Maps.
Although Google Maps has ten times the amount of Nokia Here’s smartphone users, Nokia’s division dominates in automobile mapping, claiming more than an eighty percent global market share for built-in car navigation systems.
The unit employs about 6,000 people worldwide, spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on maps updates and routinely reports more than $1 billion in yearly revenue.
Nokia has recently relaunched Here on iOS as a native iPhone application sporting a redesigned user interface, turn-by-turn directions, a rich database of millions of points of interest, offline navigation and maps and many other perks.
Pictured on the screenshots above, Nokia Here for iPhone is a really, really cool app and you’re wholeheartedly recommended to read our review and give it a try.
Source: The New York Times