Nokia, once the dominant force in the mobile industry, has sold off its prized HERE maps division to a German carmaker consortium comprised of Audi, BMW and Daimler, technology blog Re/code reported this morning.
The $3.07 billion transaction (2.8 billion euros) is pending regulatory approval and should be completed in the first quarter of 2016. The deal is meant to “secure the long-term availability” of HERE maps as an open platform, as per a media release.
News of the deal arrives following months of speculation that a bunch of Silicon Valley technology giants were interested in a takeover bid, including ride sharing service Uber, as well as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Baidu and others.
Bloomberg reports that Apple is among the list of companies Nokia is hoping will purchase its struggling HERE Maps, as it seeks to cut divisions that are losing money.
According to the publication's anonymous source, Nokia is seeking more than 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) from a sale of the unit. It's selling HERE Maps for the "ubiquity and utility" of its location-based services.
HERE Maps had been available in the App Store briefly before it got pulled in December 2013 because “iOS 7 ruined the experience”. Nokia later admitted the app was “a rushed product” that “went horribly wrong” because it was “never thoroughly proven.”
The Finnish firm has now officially confirmed that HERE Maps will return to the iPhone in early 2015 following today's release of HERE for Android and a relaunch of a new web-based experience over at here.com.
“Our iOS app development team is working hard on this and we plan to officially launch HERE for iOS in early 2015,” said the team. The revamped iOS navigation app will be joining several big-name mapping products in the App Store from the likes of Google, Garmin, TomTom and many more.
Nokia executive Sean Fernback told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that the Finnish telecommunications company will be releasing a brand new cross-platform mobile navigation app for the iOS and Android platforms later this year.
Nokia, which sold off its handset division to Microsoft, kept its Here mapping service. The forthcoming GPS navigation app would be unique in that both the maps themselves and searches would work without an Internet connection.
Nokia's long-standing mapping service rebranded as Here got announced in November 2012, with the native iPhone and iPad application arriving soon after with maps for around 200 countries, voice-guided walking navigation, public transportation directions and offline capability.
It was a nice little app that Nokia hoped would effectively fill the void in the App Store at the height of the iOS Mapsgate controversy.
Then, Google released its revamped standalone Maps for iPhone and spoiled the party for Nokia as its offering quickly tanked in App Store rankings. On Thursday, the embattled Finnish company has removed the Here application from the App Store, with a company spokesperson firing a potshot at Apple's iOS 7 in a written statement...
While most people consider the return of Google Maps to Apple's App Store an all-around positive, one observer sees the move as a 'mixed blessing' for club Cupertino. Not only is the familiar mapping application once again available, but the Android maker Google may now overshadow Apple's own efforts to make a difference in the increasingly competitive mobile mapping arena. As we reported yesterday, the new Google Maps for iOS is the top free app for the iPhone.
Indeed, Google admits the iOS app - which adds turn-by-turn directions - is superior to the Android version from a design standpoint. But for Google, returning to iOS means it also reconnects with iPhone users and a wealth of data...
Nokia just announced Here, an upcoming iOS app with voice-guided walking navigation, public transportation directions and offline capability, the latter two glaringly lacking in Apple's in-house built iOS 6 mapping solution. In comparison, Microsoft's Bing app only supports basic maps.
Google has problems of its own, rooted in belief that Apple won't approve a native Google Maps app so it hasn't even submitted it yet. Regardless of the scarcity of details, we'd love to hear your initial thoughts on Here so cast your vote now...
The embattled handset maker Nokia introduced at today's press conference in San Francisco today some interesting news related to maps. In an attempt to beat Google and Apple to the mapping punch, Nokia tapped 20 years of location expertise and its data sets spanning 200 countries to map out a new strategy which involves a re-branding effort, cool new features and a good ol' acquisition. Nokia Maps is no more. Henceforth, the new mapping service shall be known as Here.
The new cloud-based map service works across multiple devices and operating systems, it does directions and location, lets people save favorite locations and supports crowd-sourcing by allowing users to report errors and make changes themselves.
The service is based on HTML5 and an iOS app is in the works, pending Apple's approval. The iOS app will have voice-guided walk navigation, public transport directions and will cache data for offline use. And taking page from Apple's book, Nokia spent an undisclosed sum to snap up California-based 3D mapping company Earthmine, with aim to use its technology to help index the world in 3D...