Nokia announces resignation of HERE chief Michael Halbherr


Michael Halbherr is leaving Nokia. HERE senior vice president Cliff Fox will fill in as acting head.

Nokia has announced that HERE chief Michael Halbherr will be stepping down at the end of the month as digital maps head as well as a member of the Group Leadership Team. Cliff Fox will temporarily take the helm for HERE until Nokia completes the search for Halbherr's replacement from within and outside the company.

Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri thanks Halbherr for his passion, leadership and achievement during his stay with the company, acknowledging the key role he had in developing HERE and making the company's digital maps division one of the strongest players in the industry.

"I am proud that we have been able to create a leading location cloud company widely recognized across industries, by customers and by opinion leaders. Now the time is right for me to focus once again on entrepreneurial activities," Halbherr said.

People with knowledge on the matter, however, say that a disagreement between Suri and Halbherr is the real reason. What's the disagreement about? The two were at odds regarding the kind of strategy HERE should focus on, whether it should continue to target consumers or pursue enterprise and automotive clients instead.

Halbherr joined Nokia in 2006 and spearheaded efforts grow the maps division and expand revenue sources outside of wireless network equipment. Nokia acquired Navteq Corp in 2008 and Earthmine Inc. in 2012 to build its digital maps division. These turned out to be good investments because now Nokia is providing map data to Yahoo!, Microsoft and Amazon, as well as four car navigation systems.

The digital maps division recorded sales of $308 million last quarter, representing around 8 percent of Nokia's total revenue for the time period. Towards the end of June, HERE had around 6,000 employees, accounting for 11 percent of the company's workforce on the overall.

HERE used to be known as Ovi Maps from 2007 to 2011 and as Nokia Maps from 2011 to 2012. It functions using a cloud-computing model which stores data and services based on location. Since data is remotely stored on servers, users are able to access the information they need regardless of the device they are using. HERE is also multi-lingual and features maps for almost 200 countries, more than 90 of which feature voice-guided navigation. Traffic information and indoor maps are also available in select countries.

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