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Nokia sells HERE maps to Audi, Daimler and BMW for €2.8 billion

HERE today, gone tomorrow, in an autonomous car reliant on crowd-slurped cloud maps

Nokia has announced that a consortium comprising AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG will drive off into the sunset as joint and owners of its HERE maps unit.

Readers may know HERE as “Navteq” and recall that Nokia acquired the company back in 2007 for the small matter of US$8.1 billion. The company later renamed the service “HERE” and made much of the fact that its mobile devices offered baked-in mapping. When Microsoft slurped Nokia, it left HERE behind as it already had its own Bing Maps.

Nokia also decided to go off the map when it announced its merger with Alcatel-Lucent, as the mapping division was an odd thing for a networking company to operate.

This little piggy therefore went to market, attracting attention from Uber and its Chinese pal Baidu among others.

Rumours regarding the sale consistently mentioned a consortium of auto-makers as a bidder and that's now come to pass.

Nokia's canned statement on the sale says “Nokia estimates that it will receive net proceeds of slightly above EUR 2.5 billion, as the purchaser would be compensated for certain defined liabilities of HERE currently expected to be slightly below EUR 300 million as part of the transaction.

The consortium's combined canned statement says “The acquisition is intended to secure the long term availability of HERE’s products and services as an open, independent and value creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors.”

HERE's new owners also outline a vision for “new assistance systems and ultimately fully autonomous driving.” It's hoped that vision will come about as “Extremely precise digital maps will be used in combination with real-time vehicle data in order to increase road safety and to facilitate innovative new products and services. On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.”

The vision is also a bit spooky, as it envisions HERE collecting anonymised data from vehicles as they drive.

The consortium says this “swarm intelligence” will mean near real-time “ … warnings of hazards in real time, of icy roads for example, based on calculations of individual data such as ABS activations and outside temperature.”

We're also told that “Upcoming traffic jams will be identified more precisely in the future, significantly reducing the risk of accidents.”

What could possibly go wrong with that? We'll have to wait until early 2016 to find out, as that's when it's expected the deal will get the nod from regulators. ®

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