Where does HERE go?

NokiSoftI thought that this graphic was pretty funny but it implies that the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia’s handset business is no big deal. That’s not the case.  It is a big deal in that these two companies at one time dominated their industries and now they’re struggling to be relevant. It’s a big deal in that it is effectively the end of Nokia as we’ve known it.

It’s not a big deal for me in that I swore many years ago that I’d never buy another Microsoft phone and have no reason to think that will change.

As you might guess, I am more interested in what remains of Nokia, and especially the NAVTEQ/HERE business. I am also interested in why these guys can’t find the Caps Lock key but that’s another blog.

My take:

  1. The new Nokia has a mapping platform, a network equipment business and patents.  That makes no sense. HERE will get spun off which is what people there have wanted for a while. It rids them of the boat anchor that was the handset business.
  2. The HERE/Microsoft arrangement remain largely unchanged. HERE had been powering Bing maps and will continue to do so, secured by a four year deal.
  3. HERE will position itself as an independent mapping platform, for people who can’t use Google and are scared to build their own (having seen Apple’s struggles). nFor example, it would be much more palatable for Samsung to use HERE now that they aren’t a handset competitor.
  4. HERE will continue to push into the platform business as evidenced by their new automotive platform.  This move will help them as they expand their value proposition but will also turn yesterday’s customers into tomorrow’s competitors.  Hardware vendors will be reluctant to use a cookie-cutter HERE platform that doesn’t allow them to differentiate services. Reference Microsoft and IBM in the Personal PC space, circa 1990.
  5. TomTom will lose a competitive edge it has had by bashing HERE as the competition. For instance, it is more likely that HERE could compete with TomTom for map data business at Apple now.
  6. OSM will be a winner.  That’s a longer story but I believe that the gap between Google and HERE will grow and companies will need an alternative map data source.  I see more corporate adoption of OSM in the next years, which will make the map better which will make it a better option. That blog is swirling in my head and I hope to write it soon.

What does your crystal ball say?  Comment away.

8 thoughts on “Where does HERE go?

  1. Good thoughts Mark. I agree with the spinout eventually of HERE; I still believe Apple should buy TomTom. I think it’s interesting that Nokia wanted to retain the IP of HERE which makes sense. I don’t think I’d trust MSFT with HERE maps business as they have not impressed me with their management of their own location technology business as per my recent editorial.

    1. I think Apple has risk with TomTom in that it would be very bad for them if someone else (like Samsung) bought them. But I assume that if we’ve thought of that, so have they and have some mitigation plan. TomTom isn’t a good cultural fit with Apple and Apple likes to buy small companies, so I don’t think they will. That said, they’re aggressively expanding their team right now.

  2. I know it’s a bit renegade to question the onwards and upwards trend for OSM but I am wondering whether the crowd model as currently delivered can mature to the point of being a viable option for large corporate usage?

    Let the flaming start


    1. Hi Steven. I think stoning is the approved method of dealing with heretics! Not suggesting that here though. I have a theory that says that Google’s move to increasingly interactive mapping will be impossible to follow for anyone paying by the transaction as dictated by the commercial map data vendors business model. That means that the performance gap between Google and any TomTom/Nokia based map will continue to grow. The increasing gap will mean that more corporations will want to consider OSM, warts and all. Higher usage will lead to an acceleration of improvement of map quality. When? I think this year. We’ll see. Interesting to hear the sense of the community at SOTM.

  3. Marc:

    Hey Marc: Good take!
    Yes, HERE could stand alone, again, as a profitable business. However, now they need a firm commitment to transition the business model from ‘subscription for Navigation’ (only) into one that permits ‘advertising for location’ . Considering that over 50% of all mobile search originates from a map, there is an amazing opportunity to consolidate mobile map usage across all wireless platforms and create the business opportunity for mobile developers to optimize their monetization.
    As HERE now must serve a truly horizontal landscape, this model modification has to occur, or they will only serve a small percent of the TAM for mobile location and squander the opportunity to be a real alternative to Google/TomTom and/or OSM in this global market-place.

  4. Hi, the topic about OSM is not really getting to me. HERE has map data and a location based services offering. Both can be licensed, costs are involved. In both models, IP and data ownership is clear.

    If I look at OSM, you can get data only. Data is not really same-same, meaning some regions are collected in a unified specification and others are not.

    Now you have your free OSM data. You need to convert it and build a geocoder, router, map display. In addition, be careful how to use your data in conjunction with OSM.
    Lots of work , or you license technology from a company like Mapbox or CloudMade.
    This will generate costs as well for services, which are more or less base feature level.

    Features like sat images, traffic feeds, historic traffic information are not available (yet).
    More advanced datasets like Roof top geocodes will be problematic to source because of IP right for OSM.

    Dont get me wrong, I believe OSM is a great movement for mass markets such us public web and areas, neither HERE nor TomTom would invest a penny (navigation for disabled as example).

    Real b2b grade applications will use HERE or TomTom data for a long time. I dont see a fast switch to OSM coming.
    Maybe we will see more mashups, where the geocodes and routes come from the big players and the maps display is a OSM source.

    1. Hi Michael- That’s a good analysis. I am more positive on open data mapping though. It is not just a cost issue although that is an issues as well. It also is due to the limitations and restrictions on how you use the data that is hurting the commercial map providers. Commercial map data providers base their business model not solely on what they sell but on how you use what they sell. Using the same data for a consumer internet app will be priced differently than a car navigation app. This means that they try to anticipate the use cases and build pricing models around those. The problem is that for the last 10 years, people have been regularly inventing new ways to use map data and they come up with stuff that doesn’t fit the models. This happened with draggable maps, adaptive routing, multi-sensor devices and on and on. The commercial guys are always behind and when they get a new use case, their first inclination is to say “no” (Does HERE still have Business Affairs?). So people using commercial data sets can’t be as creative and innovative as Google, or someone who uses OSM. That’s why I am more positive on OSM: people just won’t be able to innovate with the commercial map data providers (unless they change).
      Sorry, that was probably a new blog post rather than a reply…

Comments are closed.