Uber has submitted a bid of up to $3 billion for HERE, Nokia’s mapping business, according to the New York Times (NYT), in competition with a host of other companies interested in acquiring the business.
These include Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Alibaba, Tencent, Yahoo, Baidu, a consortium of German car manufacturers, and a US private equity firm.
Reports have previously estimated that HERE would fetch in the region of €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in a sale, although some analysts said this valuation is on the low side given the mapping business’ strategic value to a wide array of companies.
The NYT report said the German carmakers are allied with Baidu in a joint bid (previous reports have referenced them as separate bidders).
If Uber is successful in the acquisition it would have access to a fully established digital mapping business which could help improve services like Uber Pool, which uses geospatial mapping to match riders with drivers.
Uber is already boosting its mapping efforts. Last month, it acquired a mapping software company called deCarta, its Advanced Technologies Center is working on mapping and autonomous vehicle technology and sources say it has been hiring mapping software engineers as well.
However, car manufacturers working on autonomous vehicles may yet outbid Uber, not wanting to become too reliant on HERE’s competitor Google Maps, as Google is developing such vehicles itself.
Google Maps has 10 times more smartphone users than HERE, but the latter leads the way in automobile mapping, with over 80 per cent global market share for navigation systems that are built into cars.
Earlier this week, Facebook struck a deal with Nokia to use HERE for some of its mobile mapping and is testing it in the Android version of standalone apps such as Instagram and Messenger, as well as the mobile web version of Facebook itself.
HERE’s most recent quarterly numbers showed strong revenue growth. In Q1 2015 the business saw net sales jump by 25 per cent.