Ever since the Internet became a big part of competition between the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google there was one key element that Google had over everyone else; Maps. For people that were fed up of oodles of paper folded into an impossible-to-fold-back-correctly square or those that couldn't afford a GPS system, Google Maps was the stuff of dreams. When everything went mobile, Google made Maps a big part of their overall push, and since the launch of the original Motorola Droid back in 2009, we've been enjoying free turn-by-turn navigation on our smartphones. Microsoft and Apple caught up of course, with Apple offering their own, often lambasted, Apple Maps and Microsoft partnered with Nokia for HERE maps, which was recently purchased by Audi, BMW and Daimler – the parent company of Mercedes Benz.
It's always interesting to hear big corporations like those listed above working together, but the idea of purchasing HERE from Nokia together was to prevent a tech company owning and controlling such an important piece of the puzzle. HERE Maps was purchased for something in the region of â‚¬2.5 Billion, and the three had to fight Uber among other names to get their hands on the firm. In a recent blog post, the firm has detailed what the future holds for HERE, now that they find themselves under new ownership. There's a lot of talk about keeping maps free for everyone to use whenever and wherever they like, but there's also a look ahead to the future of cars, namely those that will end up driving themselves.
The blog post goes on to say that if Map data could be understood by software then "one can indeed have a map that is close to 1:1 scale, thereby maximizing its usefulness to a machine such as a self-driving vehicle". This is part of the reason why names like Audi and BMW didn't want another tech company to get their hands on HERE, they wanted the data to be freely accessed by more than just one or two companies. Keeping HERE Maps somewhat 'open' means that development of self-driving cars and other automation services can continue using the maps already collected by the former Nokia division.