If Nokia Map Unit Is for Sale, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo All Might Want a Look – Re/code

A report that Nokia could be putting its Here mapping unit up for sale should raise eyebrows at companies through the tech industry.

Bloomberg reports that Uber and private equity firms are among those who have been approached by Nokia. A Nokia representative was not immediately available for comment.

However, if the mapping unit is indeed for sale, it could draw interest from wide array of big-name tech firms. That’s because Nokia is the remaining big independent company in the global mapping business. Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon all rely on its location technology, as do most of the major automakers.

Any of those players might be interested in trying to keep the technology from falling into the hands of a rival.

While Nokia’s maps are important to many companies, they aren’t necessarily something those companies would want to own. Nor is it a particularly great business, with Nokia getting most of its money from the car companies that license its mapping. Those payments are under pressure from readily available Web-based technologies like Google Maps. Nokia has been trying to rapidly evolve the maps from navigational aids to something that can be used by autonomous and semi-autonomous cars.

One company that could easily afford to buy the business — and might see a strategic benefit — is Apple. The company clearly has a need when it comes to better mapping data, and also is said to have more than a passing interest in the auto market. Another possibility is that some sort of coalition of parties with a vested interest in the map data could emerge, similar to the Rockstar patent consortium. But it’s easier to have a consortium own patents than it is to operate a business.

Microsoft, of course, already bought Nokia’s mobile phone business. That has left the company with three rather distinct and unrelated businesses — the mapping unit, a network equipment business, and a technology unit made up mainly of the company’s significant patent holdings.



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