Nokia’s former maps and navigation unit HERE today announced that German electronics company Bosch and automotive manufacturing company Continental acquired a total of 10% stake in HERE (subject to regulatory approval). Each of them agreed to enter into HERE’s ownership structure, acquiring 5% of the company. Bosch will work with Here on automotive, transportation and industrial Internet of Things, while Here and Continental will focus on digital maps and location-based services for automated driving and mobility services.
Bosch and Continental will join HERE’s ownership structure that consists of BMW, Daimler, Audi, Intel and Pioneer. Nokia sold Here in August, 2015 for €2.8 billion to German car makers Audi (VW Group), Daimler and BMW. Nokia’s serious investment in cartography started with the acquisition of US-based NAVTEQ for €5.7 billion in 2007. The logic behind the acquisition was that if mobile phones “replaced” the camera, MP3 player, TV, and, in some way, the PC, they will come after navigation systems, too and Nokia wanted to be the one with the best navigation to attract more buyers, but also keep an eye on important cartography data for autonomous cars and other “futuristic” stuff.
The core navigation business was never profitable for Nokia, but Nokia turned NAVTEQ, later HERE, into a billion euro business. Navigation was leverage and the data was important, so Nokia tolerated HERE’s financial loss, but once the situation with phones went upside down, HERE’s business wasn’t perceived strategic any more and was sold to German carmakers. They bought HERE, because the only alternative to HERE Maps is Google. Having all the data needed for autonomous transportation located on Google’s servers wasn’t a great idea for European car giants and they decided to jointly invest in HERE to secure access to the cartographic data to all parties equally and at a fair cost.
All in all, HERE is, in fact, an interesting success story. Big industry players like BMW, Daimler, Audio, Intel and other partners joined to have an “open”, or at least more friendly navigation company. Imagine only if Google had a maps monopoly, and they had the potential to achieve that before HERE happened.