Why the speculations on Nokia’s map service HERE run hot

May 21, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Nokia’s digital map service HERE is on the block – and a crowd of suitors are outbidding each other. But some remain at the sidelines, and the game could well take another direction.

For automated driving, highly exact street maps are an indispensible ingredient: The autopilot has to know exactly, for example, the correct lane for his direction, the position of road works, or the one way rule currently in force. Not many providers have the expertise to create digital maps of cities and highways, among them are TomTom, Google and Nokia subsidiary HERE – and only the latter one is currently for sale. The demand is higher than the supply in this market, and therefore multiple prospective customers are driving the price discussion, at least in the media. Besides mobility agent company Uber, US software giant Microsoft is said to be one of the suitors.

Likewise, the three German premium carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler are interested in controlling the development of the digital maps for self-driving cars. Since these three won’t be able to outbid Uber (who is said to have $ 3 billion on the table), they joined forces with Chinese search engine provider Baidu.

In any case, the digital maps for autonomous vehicles are nothing that can be compared with today’s navigation maps on a memory card or DVD. Since they contain so many details that that need to be current, they are updated constantly – these maps are living things, based in the cloud and requiring the cars to be connected more or less all the time. It is no coincidence that companies with strong internet background like Google and, in this case, Nokia, are owing and operating such map material. According to market researcher IHS, HERE generates sales of more than 600 million euros annually through licenses already now, and automated driving schemes have not even taken off.

So no wonder that the crowd bidding for the map services is increasing almost every day. One company that potentially could be interested in joining the fray for its exposition to automated driving is Bosch. At its Motorpresse Kolloquium