Audi, BMW, and Daimler have formed a consortium and collectively spent $3.2 billion to acquire HERE, Nokia’s mapping division. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, should close in the first quarter of 2016.
The companies announced the move Monday, saying the acquisition aims to secure the long-term availability of HERE's products and services as an open, independent platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services.
Data will be the key to this acquisition. The companies will use the digital maps in combination with real-time vehicle data to increase road safety and to facilitate innovative new products and services. On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.
Maps continue to become increasingly important for vehicles, as cars become more autonomous and brands use location-based advertising and marketing to connect with consumers. Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW,believes HERE will play a key role in the "digital revolution of mobility," combining high-definition maps and data from vehicles to make travel safe and easy. His statement doesn't mention the ability to identify locations and serve local "nearby" content or advertisements in the visual screen of the mapping software or on connected phones.
The three companies already use Nokia's mapping technology. The bid beat those from Uber and China's Baidu, among others, along with once interested party Microsoft.
Reports claim that Nokia wanted Microsoft to buy the HERE division as part of the original Nokia deal, but declined. Microsoft instead licensed the HERE technology for use on its Windows Phones and Windows devices. The mapping technology would link to search, location-based and other services offered by Bing. When Microsoft acquired divisions of Nokia, it did not acquire HERE because it already had Bing Maps.
Microsoft, Facebook, Baidu, and Uber will now have an option to license maps from the automakers, or other manufacturers mapping services such as Google, OpenStreetMap, and TomTom.