Nokia has sold its Here mapping unit to a consortium of German car makers for €2.8 billion (£1.97 billion).
BMW, Audi, and Daimler – which owns Mercedes – now own equal stakes in the Here mapping platform.
Back in April, Nokia announced its intention to examine the possibility of selling Here as part of its shift to becoming a major telecoms equipment company. This involved the purchase of Alcatel-Lucent for €15.6 billion.
“With this step we complete the latest stage of Nokia’s transformation,” said Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri. “Going forward, we will focus on our planned combination with Alcatel-Lucent. Once that is complete, Nokia will be a renewed company, with a world-leading network technology and services business, as well as the licensing and innovation engine of Nokia Technologies.”
Here’s potential benefits to the automotive industry are obvious. Besides being a solid, reliable navigation system (and one of the few that could stand up to Google Maps), the stand-alone mapping company is “developing a location cloud that harnesses the power of data generated by vehicles, devices and infrastructure to deliver real-time, predictive and personalised location services.”
This “swarm intelligence” will essentially see cars talking to each other, which will help avoid jams and accidents. Eventually, this will “enable an entirely new class of driver experiences, including highly automated driving.”
Yep, we’re talking about self-driving cars.
A joint statement from the three German car makers on the matter revealed that the acquisition was intended to “secure the long term availability of HERE’s products and services as an open, independent and value creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors.”
This appears to refer to reports that Uber was set to purchase Here for itself, which would have cut the wider automotive industry off from its advanced navigation and swarm intelligence technology.
According to Nokia, the Here deal is set to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to the usual regulatory approval.