Uber, best known for its ride-sharing mobile application, has entered a bidding contest for Nokia’s digital mapping service “Here,” a report said Thursday. Several automobile giants, including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, are reportedly vying to buy the mapping service, which is seen as the main competitor to Google Maps.
San Francisco-based Uber has made an offer of $3 billion to buy “Here,” the New York Times reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. Nokia had announced last month that it was looking to sell its mapping unit, for which a separate bid from an anonymous private equity firm has also been submitted, the Times reported, adding that the Finnish telecom giant could make an announcement about selling "Here" by the end of May.
Having its own mapping technology is expected to help Uber manage its core transportation network better, while also significantly aiding its logistic business, Forbes reported. However, the ongoing negotiations over the mapping unit's potential sale may not necessarily result in a deal.
Based in Berlin, “Here” employs nearly 6,000 people worldwide to maintain the mapping service with about three million daily updates. In 2014, it reported annual revenues of $1.1 billion -- less than 8 percent of Nokia’s overall sales, according to company records.
While “Here” is considered to be one of the few companies with the capability to offer detailed and up-to-date maps, Google Maps currently dominates the digital mapping segment with an estimated one billion mobile users, or reportedly about 10 times the number of users who use “Here” on their smartphones.
Uber, which partly relies on Google Maps, has recently been trying to reduce its dependence on the search giant’s mapping service. The company recently announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to develop its own mapping and self-driving car technology, Forbes reported. In March, Uber acquired deCarta, a San Jose-based startup that specializes in mapping, navigation and local search.