After months of speculation, Nokia finally confirmed this week that it has agreed to sell its HERE mapping unit to a group of European automobile makers, Audi, BMW, and Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes, reportedly for $3.07 billion.
What Brands Should Do
With the rise of connected cars and consumer interests, automakers are starting to realize the increasing importance of owning their navigation and mapping data. Nokia’s HERE mapping unit provides a reliable alternative to the mapping services developed by silicon valley companies like Google Maps. It is crucial for those in the automobile industry to continue building out their software and corresponding platforms through partnerships and acquisitions, so as not to become dependent on a third-party service.
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Facebook has quietly inked a deal with Nokia to use its Here mapping division to power location services on Facebook’s mobile website. The company is also running a test with Here data in its proprietary apps like Instagram and Messenger.
Facebook has long been trying to improve its location services, acquiring companies like Glancee, TagTile, and Gowalla to buff up its location technology and talent pool. With this new deal, the social media giant not only can provide users with a more uniform mobile experience and more accuracy in Facebook Places and Instagram venue tagging, but also potentially scale up its online-offline attributions with the superior mapping data that Here promises with more details and accuracy in converting geo-data to actual venues.
From partnerships with Datalogix for POS data, offering retailers in-store WiFi with Cisco, and now the deal with Here, Facebook is making great strides in attacking what marketers have said is their biggest challenge with digital attribution: matching online campaigns to offline conversion.
Microsoft announced its plan today to “eliminate up to 18,000 jobs” over the next year, with some deep cuts from the businesses it acquired from Nokia. According to the report, about 12,500 of the jobs being eliminated will come from the Nokia groups, or from its overlap at Microsoft. Echoed by recent news that the company has killed off its plans for Nokia Android phones, this huge shake-up seems to indicate Microsoft’s plan to focus on improving its cloud and mobile services instead of wasting their efforts on hardware manufacture. Considering its competitors Apple and IBM are now teaming up to tackle the enterprise IT market that Microsoft currently dominates, such a repositioning could be proven timely in the long run.
Update: Microsoft is also reported to be closing the Xbox Entertainment Studios.
In the biggest post-Labor Day news yet, Microsoft purchased Nokia’s phones and patents today for $7.2 billion. The move brings the Windows Phone 8 together with its hardware support, giving the company totally integrated mobile solutions. Part of the appeal for Microsoft is the low-end Asha brand, which has been acquired outright. The acquisition means that the Windows Phone will be able to reach millions more customers, drastically increasing its market share, and getting customers on track to future purchases of more powerful phones. Ultimately, this means that Microsoft can finally compete with Apple and Blackberry, entirely end-to-end.
Bluetooth Low Energy has a lot of potential to change the way our mobile devices interact with the environment around us, and applications of the technology for device tracking are only the tip of the iceberg. Tile, a startup that crowd funded $2.7 million for a Bluetooth Low Energy-based device-tracking chip, was proof of the viability of a concept now being adopted by Nokia for its Lumia phones in the form of a “Treasure Tag.” The Treasure Tag uses a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC technology used for mobile wallets to track whatever the tag is attached to, like a set of keys, from an app on the phone. The process also works in reverse, allowing the user to press a button on the tag to trigger a sound on the phone, so long as it’s within about 160 feet. Battery life is a concern with these devices, as Treasure Tag only lasts about 6 months (Tile advertises a 12 month lifespan), but the technology could have us all spending a lot less time hunting for our keys.
Foursquare unveiled a new app yesterday designed for feature phones – specifically Nokia’s Series 40 handsets. Feature phones are popular amongst non-tech savvy users looking for a simpler product, as well as abroad in developing markets; indeed, in 2011, feature phones accounted for 70% of mobile phone sales worldwide, and Nokia says it sold 1.5 billion units of these S40 phones. Foursquare is trying to edge into this market by getting its service pre-loaded on new devices when they hit the market in several months – and hopes to make checking in a fact of life for the many people who are just getting used to technology in their lives.
This week at Mobile World Congress, Nokia unveiled the Nokia 105. This small phone includes a flashlight and a battery that lasts for about a month on standby mode, with 12 full hours of talk time. And here’s the kicker, it will retail for only 15 Euros. This is the unsubsidized price, meaning it is unlocked and you are not being bound to a carrier agreement.
When you get a phone for “free” you are typically bound to a 1-2 year service agreement because the carrier is paying part of (most of?) the cost of the phone. So in effect, these “cheap” phones are not all that cheap. The Nokia 105 on the other hand is genuinely, truly, remarkably inexpensive.
So what’s the catch?
This is certainly not a smartphone. It doesn’t even come with a data capability or support for a data plan of any kind. You just get talk and SMS capabilities, plus a couple simple games and tools like a calculator.
Along with the FirefoxOS offering, this is clearly aimed at the developing world and getting (as the keynote was titled) the next 2 billion people onto mobile devices.
Nokia has struggled of late, releasing some figures from todays press conference that indicate annual losses greater than $3 billion. Despite the struggles, the Finish tech company appears to have righted the ship, earning $585 million in Q4. A few key moves include no longer supporting Symbian phones and cutting 1/4 of their staff.