Audi, BMW and Daimler are reportedly buying Nokia's Here mapping unit in a move that says more about the auto industry's wariness about lock-in than anything else.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Audi, BMW and Daimler will pay about $2.71 billion for Nokia Here. Nokia has been talking exclusively to the automakers.
Mapping is a core technology to the auto industry, which historically has integrated its own software and hardware. In recent years, players such as Microsoft, Google and Apple have been jockeying to be the front end of the auto cockpit. BlackBerry's QNX also has a big position as a middleware entity in autos.
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Uber was also reportedly in the running for Here.
The companies said to be acquiring Nokia Here are familiar with the technology. BMW was among the first to implement Here's predecessor technology and Daimler has used the mapping data for long-haul trucking. Daimler's Mercedes unit is also using Here data for its autonomous vehicle tests.
Given that Here's data and cloud is being used by the major German automakers an acquisition is defensive as much as offensive. The automakers couldn't afford to have Nokia's mapping unit go with a company that didn't have deep relationships with them. Simply put, the mapping technology was too strategic to let it go.