5/19/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

The Future of In-Vehicle Maps: Who Owns Here?

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Several bidders are vying for Nokia Corp.'s Here automotive mapping business.

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Several bidders are vying for Nokia Corp.'s Here automotive mapping business. The list of suitors includes Uber Technologies Inc., the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service, in partnership with China's Baidu Inc.; a consortium of German companies led by Audi, BMW and Daimler; Microsoft; a trio of U.S. investment firms; and at least one other multi-national group. Offers range between $2 billion and $4 billion.

Nokia announced last month it was putting Here on the market. It hasn't officially confirmed any of the offers, which were reported by multiple media outlets.

The bidding war pits traditional automotive companies against Silicon Valley and other tech titans for control of the lucrative in-vehicle navigation market. Nokia has surged past rival TomTom in the U.S. and Europe since the Finnish telecommunications giant purchased Navteq in 2007 and renamed it Here.

In addition to providing the backbone for navigation systems, digital maps also are the enabling technology for a wide range of emerging telematics services, including active safety features, roadside assistance and concierge services.

Only a few companies including Here, TomTom and Google have had the wherewithal to create comprehensive international, digital roadmaps. Here, for example, has deployed 200 vehicles to create 3-D street maps in 30 countries.

To date, automakers have largely kept Google Maps out of their vehicles. But Google Inc.'s push to be a leader in autonomous vehicle technology puts it in the driver's seat for some high-profile applications.

Uber got into the map business this year with its purchase of deCarta. Another contender in the market is OpenStreetMap, a free mapping service that is updated by more than 2 million users.

The next round of bids are expected by the end of the month, according to Bloomberg News.