Can HERE really support Non-Automotive LBS?

HERE-MapsToday the sales of Nokia’s HERE division was officially announced ending a long running debate over who would buy them.  The sale has been well covered by other folks.  I’d recommend GPS Business News, Dominique Bonte of ABI and the official press release but I am sure I am missing some other insightful commentary.

There are a number of interesting details that have come out in the news. I’ve written on some of them in the past. The one I am still trying to wrap my head around is how HERE will continue to support the non-automotive mapping applications. I don’t think they can do both HD Auto maps and maintain their position in non-automotive markets.

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There goes HERE

HereAlthough official announcements are not out, it sounds like the German Auto alliance formed between BMW, Daimler and Audi have won the bidding to Nokia’s HERE business.  The reported price is €2.5B ($2.7B). Despite an active rumor mill, it’s not clear how spirited the bidding was or whether the German consortium ever had much competition other than from private equity companies.

There’s lots still to be learned about the deal but here are few things that I will be watching for:

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Happy Birthday GPS

GPS-Satellite_1The Global Positioning System turns 2o years old today.  On July 17, 1995 GPS was declared fully operational, marking its official start as a positioning utility, provided free of charge by the US Government. Fourteen days later, on August 1, 1995, I started work at Trimble Navigation, running marketing for the OEM Division, my first day in my first job in the location business.

The “birthday” of GPS is somewhat misleading.  GPS satellites had been deployed since 1978, but the constellation had not been fully populated or fully operational. By 1995, there was already a growing industry in surveying, marine and military. Trimble was a public company, having IPOed largely on the strength of military demand from the first Gulf war. The OEM division at Trimble was pioneering a relatively new concept:  that there would be a business selling embedded GPS receivers into all manner of devices on an OEM basis.

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Timing. Why the Mapbox raise is important now.

SatelliteMapbox announced today that they’ve just raised $52.55 million in a Series B round. That gives the company the fuel to continue building out their platform. The investors come with great backgrounds to feed into the growth of the company. But I want to talk about timing.

This round comes at craziest time I have ever seen in the mapping sector, in fact the whole location sector. Every day new bidders surface for Nokia HERE. The investor boards on TomTom are burning up with a knock-on effect. All of this puts a lot of focus on OpenStreetMap, and a lot of focus now on Mapbox, a huge supporter of OSM and user of OSM data.
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2007 Redux? Mapping back in play

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 8.43.15 AMBuying and selling map companies is back in the news so I am back on Bloomberg.  I really enjoyed this interview with Emily Chang and Cory Johnson on Bloomberg West.  We covered a lot of ground and they had very good questions.  My reference in the title refers to the year both major map companies were acquired, NAVTEQ by Nokia and TeleAtlas by TomTom.  My prediction for 2015 (made and witnessed in January) was that 2015 would be a repeat of 2007; both HERE and TomTom Licensing would turn over again.  I have high confidence that I will be at least half right and there’s a good chance I will be 100% right. Continue reading

Is this the start of a mapping war?

Bloomberg West 030415I was on Bloomberg West on March 4, 2015, the day after the acquisition of deCarta by Uber hit the news.  Cory Johnson’s opening question (cut off in the video) was “Is this the start of a mapping war?”.  It’s a good question and provoked a (hopefully) interesting discussion.

Outside of personal interest (I was employed at deCarta six years ago), the two things that interest me about this deal are that Uber didn’t think that they could differentiate their offering in the way they wanted by using a consumer-oriented map API from Google and that owning the location stack is key to capturing user behavior data.   Continue reading

Why Uber bought deCarta


Big news for the day in the geo-world:  Uber bought deCarta, the long-time LBS platform company that at times powered the likes of Google, Yahoo!, NIM, TeleNav, TomTom and many more.   In their statement, Uber states that they “will continue to fine-tune our products and services that rely on maps — for example UberPOOL, the way we compute ETAs [estimated times of arrival], and others — and make the Uber experience even better for our users.”  This is also the first announced acquisition by Uber.  Terms were not announced but it is suspected that Uber’s war chest of $5.9B raised remains largely intact.

(Disclaimer:  I worked at deCarta six years ago and am a shareholder under non-disclosure.  Sorry, no secrets here.) Continue reading

IFTTT has a better geo strategy than Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.12.51 PMI just added a new recipe on IFTTT that sends me a message whenever someone sends a tweet within a specified radius.  They bill it as a neighborhood tweet watch but it could obviously be used to watch for tweets within any area or place.  Right now it used a simple point-and-radius geofence but presumably that could be extended into any sort of bounding box.

I mentioned that I’d added this and got a number of responses including a comment fromScreen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.23.38 PM Arjun Ram that suggested that IFTTT’s geo strategy is better than Twitter’s.  It raises the question of whether Twitter does in fact have a geo strategy and why they’ve been so slow in doing anything in that area.   Continue reading

TomTom goes online.

TomTom+deCartaInteresting press release out of  TomTom today: The Dutch PND and map maker announced that they have “extended (their) location-based services product portfolio with an online turn-by-turn navigation service”. That means that they are adding server-based navigation; a feature that is offered by competitors like Nokia HERE and Google but, until now, not by TomTom.  The release also says “In support of this product line extension TomTom has expanded its relationship with deCarta.”

Hmm…that’s a little cryptic.  Continue reading

No Map Love at WWDC 2014.

3D-Maps-iconBefore today’s WWDC, there were a lot of hints that there would be some big announcements from Apple on new features for maps as part of the iOS8/Yosemite launch. Most of the speculation was on transit routing, including a pretty detailed review from 9to5Mac, complete with screen shots.  So I watched the Tim & Craig show from start to finish, and here’s what I saw:  Nothing. Continue reading