Uber Bids For HERE Mapping Service For $3 Billion


Ride-sharing service Uber wants its own digital mapping service and is reportedly willing to spend $3 billion to grab Nokia's HERE technology, an acquisition that would end Uber's reliance on Google Maps.

Reports late Thursday claimed Uber has made a formal offer, although it has not confirmed the news and neither has the Finland-based Nokia.

Nokia, however, did acknowledge last month it was exploring selling HERE and said it hopes to announce a sale by the end of May.

Uber's move isn't surprising, given it's clearly looking to move way beyond its initial business focus. It has indicated interest in developing driver-less vehicles.

"Mapping data is an important long-term asset for the auto industry," said Jeremy Carlson, an IHS Automotive analyst. "It makes sense that they would want to protect it."

Uber, however, is facing some stiff competition in courting HERE as a group of automakers is also clearly interested in scooping up HERE. The group includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, and Chinese search engine Baidu is also supposedly onboard with the group.

Nokia is looking to sell HERE as the company reorganizes after selling its smartphone and handset business for $7.2 billion to Microsoft just about a year ago.

One report regarding the sale of HERE is that automakers are concerned the valuable mapping technology would remain within the reach of tech giants, which are also making big headway in developing the driverless, or autonomous, vehicle of tomorrow.

Google has made some big strides with its car technology and caused more than a few ripples of discontent among leading car makers.

For its part, Uber hasn't been idling either when it comes to expanding beyond ride-sharing services. In February, it signed a deal with Carnegie Mellon University as the two plan to develop the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pennsylvania.

In addition to Uber and the car maker's group expressing interest in HERE, there is also reportedly a bid into Nokia from a private equity firm.

According to a news report, Nokia's HERE boasts more than an 80 percent worldwide market share for in-car navigation systems yet its numbers are not nearly as high for smartphone users. In that space, Google Maps has captured 1 billion mobile users, about 10 times more than Nokia's mobile app user base.

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