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Race for Nokia’s HERE heats up, Uber said to bid $3bn

Uber Maps HERE

Multiple sources are reporting that Nokia’s mapping unit, HERE, is attracting longing looks from various parties ahead of an anticipated bid in excess of €2 billion. The NY Times has reported that Uber has already bid €3 billion.

Private taxi service Uber, according to the New York Times, is the most interested party at present and has apparently lodged a bid of around $3bn. Last year, HERE reported increases of 25% year on year growth in sales of cars being fitted with built-in HERE-based navigation systems; and the NYT claims Nokia’s mapping business currently has its hands on 80% of the global built-in car navigation systems market.

Uber is an ambitious firm which has shown remarkable growth in recent years, and is showing signs moving as much towards logistics as it is taxying. To that end, the private driver firm could look to bring its currently outsourced mapping service in-house if it were to bid for HERE. Any purchase of HERE could be conducted with one eye on future endeavours for Uber, with driverless taxis and autonomous vehicles being proposed as a potential avenue of further exploration. As the internet of things continues to flourish, internet-connected cars and mapping systems will become of increasing significance to the automotive industry.

Interestingly, or perhaps totally coincidentally, Uber’s investors happen to include the VC arm of HERE’s biggest mapping rival, Google.

HERE already partners with BMW, Honda, Mitsubishi, Continental, Volvo and many other automotive giants, and it may be a consortium from the automotive sector which stifles any acquisition ambitions Uber may have.

The WSJ reported earlier this week that a consortium of Germany’s three biggest car manufacturers is looking to lodge a bit in excess of €2bn. BMW, Audi and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz are supposedly weighing up a bit to prevent Nokia’s mapping unit getting flogged off to another Silicon Valley giant. Chinese tech vendor Baidu is alleged to be supporting the consortium.

With both Google and Apple already a significant threat to the automotive industry with regards to their self-driving vehicle projects, and the pervasion of each company’s operating system; a Google or Apple-led attempt to purchase HERE has the potential to significantly impact the future of the automotive industry.

In each report, talk of Apple as a potential bidder hasn’t materialised, which is surprising for more than one reason. Earlier this year, Apple had been rumoured to work on an automotive project called Titan, which saw the tech giant poach a number of engineers from electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors. It is thought that Apple is looking into the development of a driverless vehicle, for which a mature and well developed mapping business would be integral. Apple’s previous attempts at mapping have been widely regarded as failures in the market, so procuring an established and successful mapping business makes sense, particularly considering the volume of disposable cash Apple seems to have lying around.

Prior to Nokia’s announcement of its Alcatel-Lucent purchase, Telecoms.com reported HERE was due to go on sale in the not-too-distant future. Whatever happens, it seems the eventual buyer of HERE stands to gain a lot, and the business has appeal to varied parties for a variety of purposes.

  • Nokia Corporation


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