Nokia Buys NAVTEQ; Where does that leave MS, Garmin and Google?

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Nokia, mobile phone handset manufacturer and designer, has announced plans to acquire NAVTEQ, the largest mapping data provider. NAVTEQ’s purchase is not surprising; their largest competitor, Tele Atlas was just bought by TomTom earlier this year (Radar post). This move is significant across the internet mapping landscape as NAVTEQ supplies mapping data to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!

When TomTom bought Tele Atas it was primarily to take advantage of its millions of GPS-unit owners’ data generation. TomTom owners will eventually feed data back into Tele Atlas’ system. Nokia has to be thinking similar thoughts about its handset owners. Many of the newer Nokia products (especially the N-Series) come loaded with GPSs and advanced mapping applications (for mobile phones). Given Nokia’s hardware background, I suspect this means an entry into the handheld/car GPS unit market for Nokia. In unfortunate news for the upcoming Dash (Radar post) I bet that they will be internet-connected.

This is especially harsh news for Garmin. They are now stuck with the choice of getting their data from two competiors. They currently get their data from NAVTEQ, a company that will be owned by a soon-to-be direct competitor; their other option is to buy data from TomTom, already a direct competitor.

I am curious whether Google or Microsoft were involved in the bidding. They both must have considered purchasing NAVTEQ — especially after the TomTom-Tele Atlas deal. They have both started their own data collection systems. Google has used their own vans to generate some of their streetlevel views and are experimenting with hand-held GPS units (Radar post). Microsoft is currently capturing aerial imagery on their own for Virtual Earth (Radar post) and are working very closely with Facet for street-level views (I expect an acquisition there soon). I wonder if they are going to continue building-out or if they will resign themselves to not owning this part of the geostack.

All of these acquisitions are good news for us as consumers. Mapping data is going to become more accurate and will be updated more quickly. Mobile location applications will also improve. Now we just need to wait for it to happen or work on Open Street Map to generate our own.

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  • http://blogs.weogeo.com/pbissett Paul Bissett

    I picked up an interesting tidbit from the blog at The Map Room. It appears that 87% of Navteq’s business came from mobile devices and navigation systems. Only 5% came from internet and wireless.

    When you look at Microsoft’s purchase of Vexcel and Google’s purchase of ImageAmerica, it seems to indicate that competition in the internet geospatial business will be driven by content. The interesting thing about this is that geocontent and IP are what are driving the revenues and valuations in the geospatial industry (at least the Navteq example), not consumer-driven advertising. And today’s event appears to say that the content may be more valuable than was previously assumed.

    I am not sure what it all means but it does suggest that content providers, the people with geodata and the the knowledge to create geoproducts, may be more valuable than previously considered.

  • http://webandlife.blogspot.com Andy Wong

    While there are standards of map data so interoperability of data is not a problem. I wonder that in the future whether consumers could have a convenient platform of choosing a data provider, I mean, a platform of getting cheapest deal.

  • http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    I’ve been using Navteq for years as one of the poster children for my “Data is the Intel Inside” thesis. But I do think that the real question is going to be whether there’s a web 2.0 answer (i.e. a user-generated content) answer to the expensive data development and curation currently employed by Navteq. Doing it yourself is “so 20th century.”

    It would seem that there are interesting opportunities for Nokia to use the cellphone (and other devices) as a data collection adjunct to Navteq’s current data collection.

    I’ve always been surprised that no one has done a good job of opening up the maps for user curation and improvement. There are a lot of mashups creating additional data layers, but little in the way of feedback loops on the lower level data.

  • http://petef.org Peter Ferne

    @Tim, I think you do OpenStreetMap a disservice — “feedback loops on the lower level data” is exactly what they do, and do well.

  • http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    Peter — I wasn’t attempting to “dis” OpenStreetMap at all– the “no one” that I was referring to was the big data providers and the big web mapping portals. Obviously, this is what OpenStreetMap does, but it’s a shame that you guys are having to start from scratch, rather than having your work adopted by Navteq and Teleatlas — or even if necessary by Google, Yahoo, MS, or MapQuest.

    You’re having to create a whole new map data source, rather than having the existing map providers rely on their users to improve the existing ones.

  • http://www.mifdesign.com Custom

    Yes, I totally agree with Tim. Teleatlas services are good. And it’s better to adopt the work by it rather then make a scratch.

  • http://www.canlitv.gen.tr/ Canli TV

    You’re having to create a whole new map data source, rather than having the existing map providers rely on their users to improve the existing ones.

  • http://www.gazeteler.tv Gazeteler

    It would seem that there are interesting opportunities for Nokia to use the cellphone (and other devices) as a data collection adjunct to Navteq’s current data collection.

  • http://www.paylasonline.net paylasonline

    There are a lot of mashups creating additional data layers, but little in the way of feedback Yes, I totally agree with Tim. Teleatlas services are good. And it’s better to adopt the work by it rather then make a scratch

  • http://www.paylasonline.net islami sohbet

    While there are standards of map data so interoperability of data is not a problem. I wonder that in the future whether consumers could have a convenient platform of choosing a data provider, I mean, a platform of getting cheapest deal