Just over a year after being sold by Nokia, mapping service Here revealed today that it has sold 10 percent of itself to three new investors as part of a strategic move into the Chinese market.
In a blog post today, Here confirmed that the stake was sold to Chinese mapping company NavInfo, internet giant Tencent, and Singapore-based investment firm GIC. In December 2015, Nokia sold its Here mapping unit to European automakers Audi, BMW, and Daimler for about $3 billion.
The current goal: To find new partners who can help Here tackle the competitive Chinese market.
“Our intention has been to broaden our shareholder base to reflect how location intelligence will fuel invention and expansion across different industries in all parts of the world,” Here CEO Edzard Overbeek said in statement.
Tracking the overall market share of mobile mapping services is notoriously difficult. There isn’t much reliable data to determine market share, though Google and Apple maps are considered to be the two heavy hitters in the smartphone realm. In China, Baidu Maps is seen as having a huge home field advantage, but it also had a partnership with Here to provide mapping data outside its native country.
But one area where Here has clearly staked a claim is with automakers, where it’s estimated that Here powers around 80 percent of in-car GPS navigation systems. That was a big reason the three automakers acquired Here last year.
In its press release, Here explained that it will create a joint venture with NavInfo, a provider of maps and location services in China, to offer such services to a wide range of Chinese industries. That effort includes expanding its Here Auto SDK for automakers in China.
“NavInfo and Here have a more than 10-year cooperation history and are now both in a transformation phase to extend our heritage in traditional navigation to intelligent location services and autonomous driving solutions for a global customer base,” said NavInfo CEO Patrick Cheng, in a statement.
As an added bonus, Here said Tencent is considering using its mapping services in Tencent’s products, which include QQ and WeChat. But in a statement, Tencent vice president of Mobile Internet Group Julian Ma said his company is also looking at using Here to help with its own exploration of “future technologies, including autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.”
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