There are potential buyers of HERE Maps, but where is Microsoft?

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The potential buyers of HERE Maps - but where is Microsoft?

Amidst a rapidly changing market position and ownership of a massive asset like HERE Maps, Nokia has been in talks with various entities to sell that portion of the company off.  Among those interested are a consortium of German carmakers, along with Facebook and Uber, according to a German publication called Manager Magazin.

That Nokia is considering such a sale shouldn’t be surprising.  The company is undergoing a period of reinvention – not unlike Microsoft – and it certainly makes sense to see a variety of industries interested in HERE.  After all, mapping and location services play an increasingly important role in people’s lives, and it’s not hard to imagine what the aforementioned companies might do with HERE.  For example, Facebook is privy to vast amounts of data from its users.  Combined with check-in information, this could provide powerful insights to Facebook and its advertising partners.  Likewise, Uber’s ridesharing business relies on providing its drivers accurate location information, where an acquisition of HERE would seem a perfect fit.  And the consortium, which includes BMW and Audi, could more easily integrate navigation capabilities alongside their own systems, without having to deal with licensing issues.

Curiously, Microsoft isn’t mentioned as a potential buyer, even though they could also stand to benefit from this type of acquisition.  Bing Maps has incorporated HERE data for several years now, no doubt partly due to the strong hardware partnership between Microsoft and Nokia at the time.  Particularly in the case of the new maps app in current builds of Windows 10, it’s clear that the two sets of mapping data complement each other nicely.

So if licensing has been working for Microsoft thus far, why would they consider buying HERE, which is valued at more than $2 billion?  Defense.  To allow another buyer to scoop up such a valuable asset could put Microsoft’s own mapping solution on unstable footing – not desirable in an already Google-dominated landscape.