Bloomberg reported earlier this year, that Nokia might be planning to sell its maps business, so they can focus more on their telecommunication equipment division. Apparently, the rumor was true as now a new report from the Wall Street Journal states the Finnish company has already begun the final negotiations for selling Here Maps and the buyers are a group of German car makers, specifically Audi, BMW and Daimler.
The deal has not been signed yet, but it could happen “in the next few days”, anonymous sources told WSJ. After (and if) the deal is finalized, the German auto makers want to invite other automotive companies to invest in the HERE Maps service.
The end game is to use the already robust navigation service to further develop high-definition real-time digital maps, a key technology needed to build self-driving cars, but also for state of the art automotive safety systems.
The German luxury car makers did have some fierce competition. Uber partnered with Baidu to bid for HERE maps, but they dropped out of the bidding last month. However, the involved auto makers were afraid of other tech giants as well, such as Google and Apple, says the WSJ report.
Now, the question is, what will happen to HERE Maps outside of the automotive ecosystem (something many users of the HERE apps are probably wondering)? It’s quite popular as a mobile service, mainly because of its excellent offline navigation capabilities. The car makers involved in the deal, seem to care a lot about improving the vehicles they’re developing, and at first sight it might appear as they could lose the focus on smartphone users of the service.
However, these people form an immense user base which is incredibly important for testing and data acquisition purposes. Also, the major rival services are readily available on mobile plaforms, so HERE Maps needs to remain just as accessible in order to thrive, self-driving cars or not.
For now, all parties involved in the deal refused to comment, but we’ll return with more information on the subject as soon as it’s made public.
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