For about a month now, Nokia has been looking for a buyer for its loss-making HERE division. Some of the potential buyers rumored to be weighing their options include Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, Sirius XM, Tenecent and Facebook among others. Estimates put the value of the deal – as and when it goes through – to be anywhere between $2 billion and $4 billion. HERE is the combination of Nokia’s mapping and location assets under a single brand. Nokia got some of these assets when they acquired GPS based navigation company Navteq for $8.1bn in 2008. HERE is currently licensed for use by Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Flickr, SAP and Oracle.
With a number of names being thrown around as possible competitors vying for Nokia’s mapping services, Facebook apparently has already made its first move in cozying up to Nokia. In what could be a precursor of what is to follow, Facebook has reportedly signed a deal to use Nokia’s HERE maps on Facebook mobile along with Facebook Messenger and Instagram – the photo sharing service that Facebook acquired in 2012 for $1 billion. Both Facebook and Nokia have confirmed the deal. Facebook also seems to have already started using HERE’s geocoding to help its users identify and tag locations in their posts instead of Microsoft’s Bing Maps that it had been using thus far. However, it doesn’t seem as though it has switched over yet to HERE on its own mobile apps, which are still using Apple Maps or Google Maps depending on the default on your mobile.
Once the teething issues are ironed out however, it will in all probability be the end of both Google and Apple maps on any Facebook platform, which is what makes it a bit of an issue for both the tech giants. It wasn’t so long ago, that Apple was using Google’s mapping services as the default on iOS, but they have since launched their own maps and even though that venture got off to a rather comical start, it has now become much more reliable going by most reports. Increasingly over the last few years, more and more companies are jumping the Google ship and either tying up with some other geo-location service or launching their own services. Microsoft has already done that with Bing Maps and now with reports of Facebook’s impending switchover, an important revenue source for Google seems to be on its way towards drying up.