Rumours suggest that Nokia is on the verge of selling it’s HERE mapping unit as it looks to focus on its telecommunications infrastructure business. Bloomberg reports that potential buyers include Uber, the mobile car booking application specialist, and undisclosed German car makers and private equity firms.
HERE was not included in Nokia’s sale of its handset business and associated applications and services to Microsoft for $7.2bn in April 2014, rejected due to its crossover with Microsoft’s own mapping software Bing Maps and despite close integration between the two. Instead, Microsoft chose to acquire the licensing for HERE for its Windows Phone devices whilst the unit stayed in Nokia ownership.
Revenue for HERE was €969m in the financial year 2014 yielding an operating profit of €31m which was down 35% from €48m in 2013, though Nokia said it was making headway in the automotive segment. Nokia launched an in-car navigator application, Here Auto, which offers voice-guided navigation and 2D/3D street-level satellite maps together with a related mobile app in August 2013 and revealed plans to work with Mercedes’ car division to provide cloud connected 3D maps for the Mannheim to Pforzheim route in Germany in September of the same year.
Research company Gartner has predicted that a quarter of a billion of connected cars will be on the world’s roads by 2020 as navigation software platforms become increasingly embedded in new vehicles.
Nokia currently has three divisions –Nokia Solutions and Networks (formerly Nokia Siemens Networks), HERE and its Nokia Technology IP licensing unit. Any sale of HERE would indicate the company is making a strong commitment to the expansion of its money spinning network infrastructure arm. NSN, which includes mobile broadband and global services, saw revenue flat at €11.2bn in 2014, down 1% on the previous year, whilst Nokia Technologies posted a 9% increase to €578m from €529m, but first quarter NSN sales were up 8% year on year to €3.36bn.