Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Three German Carmakers Will Pay $3 Billion for Nokia's Mapping Service

Last week I mentioned my suspicion that the robot uprising had already begun with their first target being the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Well, there's more evidence*, as if I needed any, that it has already happened, see links after the headline article.

Following up on May 9's "Uber Bids for Nokia Maps Service to Lessen Google Reliance".

From IEEE Spectrum, August 4:
The news is that Daimler, Audi, and BMW have paid some US $3 billion for Here, Nokia’s road-mapping service. The question is why they did it.

Because of self-driving cars, you might respond. Well, yes, superaccurate road maps are increasingly useful to cars that think, serving as a kind of sixth sense (after radar, lidar, sonar, odometry, and inertial guidance). A first-rate map might lead you to your exit even when the exit sign is covered in snow.
But why buy a mapping service of your own when you can use Google, Tom Tom or, for that matter, Here? Why own when you can rent?

Evidently the three German car makers figured that mapping is so much a part of their core business that they must set aside their rivalries to get their collective hands on it. Maybe they worry that Google might charge too much for access to its maps, and that the same would be true with Baidu or even Apple (new to mapping, but a behemoth just the same).

Or maybe they acted out of fear. The three companies all use Here in their cars today—it’s found in 80 percent of cars that have dashboard navigation services—and if a rival transportation company were to snap up the service, it could be uncomfortable for them. Uber, the ride-hailing app, was reportedly interested in acquiring Here, as were Baidu and others, but they withdrew their bids some weeks ago.
The German car consortium was thus able to drive a harder bargain than Nokia’s reported initial goal of $4 billion. Therefore, you could say that today’s price is a great deal, but only if you buy into the logic of a bidding frenzy. In any case, there is now the little matter of paying for it all.

For now, the German companies say they won’t hog Here’s maps but “will expand its product offering and continue to make it available to all customers across industries.”  That will have to do until self-driving technology advances enough to make this $3 billion acquisition pay for itself....MORE
*Right there on Spectrum's front page: "Why Roboticists Should Join the Trillion-Dollar Driverless Race".
And if don't see where they're going with that one, try to put a happy face on this headline:
 "MIT Robot Steals Human Brains to Help It Balance"