Google Maps has made some minor changes that improve usability, while Nokia appears to be struggling to sell its mapping service HERE.
Google Maps now will hide the search bar on the top and explore bar on the bottom of the map screen to create a larger visual field. One tap causes those bars to disappear and another brings them back. It’s a subtle and nice upgrade. There are a couple of other very minor changes tied to places sharing and photos, described by TheNextWeb.
In Europe Reuters reports that discussions between Nokia and a consortium of German car makers negotiating to buy HERE may have broken down. The news outlet characterizes those talks as “unraveling.”
The consortium includes BMW, Daimler and VW. They all currently use HERE for navigation and see digital maps as crucial for their future success as well as critical to the development of self-driving cars.
The issue is not demand for the Finnish mapping unit but price. Nokia is trying to recoup some of the billions it paid for NAVTEQ years ago, but potential buyers disagree that the service is worth as much Nokia wants.
Nokia paid more than $8 billion for NAVTEQ in 2007 and is now seeking between $3 and $4 billion from a buyer. Microsoft had tried to buy HERE along with Nokia’s mobile devices division but Nokia declined to sell at the time. Recently the company has been trying to stimulate demand and bidding with leaked press reports among other tactics.
Uber was reportedly a serious bidder but the company’s purchase of some of Microsoft’s mapping assets last week signals declining interest in HERE. Now it appears its the Germans vs. the Chinese. Baidu and Tencent are both said to be interested.
HERE will probably sell but the question is for how much? It’s possible that if it doesn’t get the price it wants Nokia could retain HERE. But then the company would need to continue to invest in the product to keep it competitive, which it may not want to do given that mapping is no longer core to its corporate vision.