How the HERE takeover impacts the digital map market

August 03, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The bidding consortium of Audi, BMW and Daimler AG now has officially announced the acquisition of Nokia’s mapping and location services business HERE. The move has major implications on the competitive landscape of real-time traffic and location based information services.

The three carmakers intend to maintain HERE as an independent company and won’t interfere into operational business, the trio announced in a joint press release. Instead, HERE will continue to offer its map data to offer to any interested party. However, the acquisition poses an “interesting opportunity of how an industry collective will share a strategic resource with competitors”, comments market research company IHS Automotive Analysis. “The most likely answer is an industry consortium supported by an initial fee, as well as an annual fee for both membership and to support ongoing costs in R&D, collection and maintenance of high definition maps in exchange for open access to the maps provided by the consortium”, says IHS. Those not part of the consortium are expected to pay a normal licensing fee as they would today.
The consortium model has many benefits for the industry, including the ability to combine resources to secure and continue developing a long-term strategic resource. By acquiring a global platform in HERE, it also may establish a de facto standard, giving the industry a unique opportunity to rally around specifications or processes that could in fact hasten the onset of a connected and automated future mobility ecosystem. Possibly the most important aspect is that the consortium will also own their own data, thus not having to figure out who controls customer data - the service provider or the OEM.

The acquisition also impacts the mobile space significantly, since HERE is one of only two companies worldwide to supply navigable maps at a global scale as an alternative to Google and Apple; the only competitor is TomTom. Mobile companies — many with consumer-facing mobile clients including Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu and Samsung—see an independent mapping solution as critical in order to compete with Google in the mobile advertising business.

According to the buying consortium, HERE is laying the foundations for the next generation of mobility and location based