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German Carmakers Acquire Nokia’s Mapping Unit For $3 Billion

Written by on May 3, 2016

German carmakers Audi, BMW, and Daimler (owners of the Mercdeds brand) paid € 2.8 billion or about $3 billion to acquire Nokia’s mapping service Hire. Nokia sold its mobile phone unit to Microsoft last year for $7.6 billion.

Nokia is now focused almost entirely on its telecom equipment business, selling communications equipment to telecoms carriers worldwide.

Nokia’s Here mapping technology was a major competitor to Google Maps and was used by the likes of Facebook, Yahoo, Baidu and Amazon. As the role of mapping and location-based services increase, companies wish to depend more on their own products rather than having to rely on competitors’ products. Even Apple ditched Google Maps and is spending heavily on offering a respectable competitor to it in the form of Apple Maps.

As Google leads the world in self-driving cars and rumors abound of Apple’s deep interest in the automobile business, the German auto giants are traversing in the opposite direction to the California tech giants. The century-old automakers are not going to cede their automobile businesses to the West Coast mavericks and realize that they need to upgrade themselves on consumer technology in cars as well as researching self-driving car technology. Mapping is a key part of developing autonomous car driving software.

Nokia Here happened via Nokia’s $8.1 billion acquisition of Navteq in 2008.

Even as the European auto giants allow car entertainment systems like Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto onto their dashboards, they don’t want to depend on Google or Apple’s mapping service to offer the digital mapping and voice direction from their dashboards. But since they will integrate Apple and Google’s auto infotainment systems, consumers will have a choice of three mapping services depending on their preferences and the quality of the mapping products on offer.

The German giants of the auto business will continue to license Nokia Here mapping services to those interested from the world of technology as well as possibly other automakers in Europe, America, Japan and elsewhere.