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Uber Reportedly Bids $3B For Nokia's HERE Maps

The bidding war for HERE heats up as the vehicle-for-hire startup Uber reported makes a $3 billion bid for Nokia's struggling maps division.
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
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Though Uber is best known as a low-cost alternative to taxicabs, a report in The New York Times indicates the company has its sights set further down the road to success, specifically by targeting Nokia's HERE maps.

The report, which cited three anonymous sources familiar with the deal, said Uber has submitted a bid for as much as $3 billion for Nokia's HERE maps business, which is Google Maps' main competitor.

Uber is not alone in its attempt to buy the mapping service. Since April, when Nokia revealed plans to possibly sell its struggling maps division, German automakers like Audi, Mercedes, and other market leaders like Facebook have begun a bidding war for HERE.

Nokia launched a HERE Beta app for Samsung Galaxy smartphones in August 2014. The app became available on all Android devices running on version 4.1 -- Jelly Bean -- or higher in October. An iOS version debuted in March of this year.

The service is available in 196 countries, with features including include turn-by-turn walking navigation, offline availability, 3D landmarks, and indoor venue maps for 90,000 buildings in more than 70 countries.

Other features include photos of the surrounding locations, a weather toolbar, and personalization options that allow users to tag favorite places.

Google Maps continues to dominate the market. Apple Maps -- despite a bungled rollout that sent users far off the beaten path -- also continues to gain market share.

Both companies have the benefit of disseminating their maps through the broad adoption of operating systems and the smartphones they power.

In June 2013, the blog Android Police reported Google Maps app had cleared one billion downloads.

While Nokia may have a way to go to catch up with Google Maps or even Apple Maps, it does have a considerable foothold in the built-in navigation market for automobiles.

The company's official HERE blog reported that 6.1 million new cars drove out of the showroom with the maps service on board in the first half of 2014, representing a 25% increase compared to the same period last year.

[ Read more about self-driving cars.]

"HERE has hundreds of cars driving around every day, each capturing around 700,000 data points per second," company spokesman James Ethridge wrote in the post. "We collect nearly 60 billion probe points per month and 85 per-cent of our data is under five minutes old. The result is an astonishing 2.7 million updates to our maps every day."

The company also boasts a slate of partnerships in the past two years that include major automakers like Honda, Mitsubishi, and Volvo.

This year, the company also announced partnerships with premiere luxury carmakers Jaguar Land Rover and BMW. According to reports, BMW is also looking to buy the company.

"There are only a few mapping businesses in the world," Ehud Gelblum, a Citigroup analyst told The Times in April 2014. "It's a valuable asset."

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