Today's Mapping Industry Really Does Need To Please All People, All Of The Time



Today's Mapping Industry Really Does Need To Please All People, All Of The Time
It's a wonderful time to be working in the maps and location industry. Back in 2012, Pew Research found out that almost 75% of smartphone owners are using some form of location based information. That amount of location usage needs a heck of a load of mapping data to drive it, making the acquisition of TeleAtlas by TomTom and NAVTEQ by Nokia in 2006 a far sighted and vital move. These are truly an age of prosperity for the companies that make their living licensing digital mapping data, after all MarketsAndMarkets valued the entire LBS market at almost $40 billion in 5 year's time while Berg values just the advertising section of the location market at nearly $15 billion in 4 year's time.

Truly we are in the midst of a location boom and suddenly the $2.76 billion that TomTom paid for TeleAtlas and the $8.1 billion that Nokia paid for NAVTEQ look almost bargain basement.

Let's just all license our data and then head to the bar, safe and secure that we're in an unassailable position.

Really?

Lots of people in this industry, myself included, held our breath when TeleAtlas and TomTom joined forces; we're still waiting. With the exception of 2008's deal with Apple for an undisclosed sum, nothing substantial has come out of the Dutch owned maps and navigation corporation. So maybe TeleAtlas hasn't fared too well, but surely NAVTEQ has?

In the interests of transparency I should probably state upfront that I joined Nokia's mapping organisation in 2010 and spent the next three years with the company until just after Microsoft managed to buy the mobile phone section of the business.

When I started at the company, Nokia was still using the Ovi brand for their mapping services. That was almost 4 years after NAVTEQ was acquired so surely the two companies had merged their operations? But no, the only touch point between the companies was at CEO level; Nokia did their thing as NAVTEQ's supposedly number one customer and NAVTEQ did their thing in spite of Nokia. It wasn't until late 2011 that the two organisations finally merged creating the unwieldly named Nokia Location & Commerce, which finally became HERE in 2013.

So Ovi Maps, became Nokia Maps and finally HERE Maps over a 7 year period, all under the care of Michael Halbherr, the enthusiastic and ebullient, Harley Davidson riding CEO of HERE, who recently announced that he was stepping down and leaving the company and the Nokia Group leadership team to "pursue his own entrepreneurial interests outside of the company". That news alone was enough to make me pause over my morning coffee. Halbherr's deep enthusiasm and passion was one of the main driving forces within Nokia Maps, or Ovi Maps, or Nokia L&C or HERE ... let's just call the company HERE from now to avoid confusion. I'd worked with Michael several times and got to experience first hand how he viewed the company and the industry.

Continued...

Monday, September 8th 2014
Gary Gale


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