​Baidu taps Nokia's Here for maps outside of China

Nokia's Here maps are to power Baidu's mapping services for areas beyond mainland China.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Nokia's Here has become Baidu's mapping supplier for the Chinese search firm's mobile and desktop map services outside of China.

According to Nokia, the idea is to help improve Baidu's location services support for Chinese "globetrotters" who are planning overseas trips ahead of time.

Under the deal, Baidu's desktop version of maps and its iOS and Android mapping apps will use Here for geographies outside of mainland China. The deal starts with Taiwan first, "with other countries or territories to follow at a later stage," Nokia's Here unit said.

Baidu will become the first Chinese company to offer location-based services to locals travelling abroad, whose numbers reached 97 million last year, Nokia added.

Besides improving its maps services for Chinese language users, the search company has also been looking beyond China in new ways. It recently expanded its services to non-Chinese markets, including Thailand and Brazil.

Currently, Baidu uses Beijing-based Navinfo for its worldwide maps, including for mainland China. Earlier this year, Baidu rival Tencent acquired a stake in Navinfo - the move was seen as an effort to keep pace with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba's acquisition of competing navigation service AutoNavi.

Separately, Nokia also announced a wider launch of its Here maps beta for Android, with the app now available worldwide through the Google Play store. Previously, users had to 'sideload' the app from here.com.

The app available from Google's store contains a few stability fixes and now comes with voice-guided navigation for 18 new countries and territories - though not all the roads in these countries have been mapped yet.

Nokia's Here team says that it is also working on an iOS version of its app and plans to launch it in early 2015.

The deal with Baidu adds another non-automotive client to Here's roster. Nokia recently signed a licensing agreement to bundle Here with SAP's analytics platform HANA.

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