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Sep 26, 2014

HERE Maps Is Pressuring Microsoft for a Better Deal on Windows Phone Development




HERE Maps has been around for more than 10 years, as part of Nokia. The good news for the company is that, even after the Microsoft / Nokia deal, HERE Maps still belongs to the Finnish company and has more freedom than ever.

The bad news for Microsoft is that after developing the Windows Phone version of HERE Maps, the company behind the navigation services announced it would launch similar apps on Android and iOS platforms. Why is this bad news? Because when Microsoft decided to buy Nokia’s mobile division, the deal did not include the acquisition of HERE as well. HERE is still part of Nokia, and it has recently made a surprising announcement that it is far from what Microsoft would have expected. During a recent interview, Sean Fernback, Senior VP at Nokia HERE, has said that his company plans to “wind down” the Windows Phone app development and shift some of the resources towards Android and iOS.

It appears that HERE’s dream was to be present on Android, which is why the company has decided earlier this year to speed up the development of the program for this particular mobile platform, which now has a market share of more than 85%. Moreover, the same level of attention will be given to the iOS version of HERE Maps, even if its market share is nowhere near Android’s. I think this decision, that HERE Maps needs to be present on the most important mobile ecosystems on the market, namely Android and iOS, makes sense from the developers’ point of view.

Windows Phone is not a major player in the smartphone business

It’s also a great turn of events from the consumers’ perspective, as Google Maps does not seem to have any competition on Android yet, so the arrival of HERE Maps will offer end-users more options when it comes to navigation services. Obviously, with only 3.5% market share, Windows Phone is not seen as a major player in the smartphone business yet, which is why HERE Maps is trying to relocate resources to reflect the real status on the market. Let’s be frank and admit that Windows Phone is only a minor player on the market for the moment and that it will probably take a lot of time and financial resources to bring it to a level where developers could actually be interested in bringing their apps and services to this platform first.

But that doesn’t mean that HERE should totally drop Windows Phone as a supported platform, and considering Fernback’s statement, it doesn’t even want to. However, I strongly believe that this statement was a warning for Microsoft to step up its offering for HERE Maps development for Windows Phone.

HERE Maps for Windows Phone will continue to receive updates often

For the time being, Microsoft and HERE are tied up in a license agreement for the use of the mapping platform for the next 4 years. But after this period, both companies will have to talk numbers once again, and the fact that Fernback has already announced that his company is shifting resources to Android and iOS is a clear statement from the Finnish company that there is life after Microsoft as well. But there’s more. Apparently, Microsoft and HERE are already in talks for a future deal. I’m not sure in what state these discussions are now, but Nokia does seem to have the upper hand here. Shortly after Fernback’s words hit the Internet, Pino from the HERE team felt the need to provide another statement in which he said that support and development for Windows Phone wouldn’t stop, but that his company was in talks with Microsoft on how to proceed further.

I think HERE is trying to put some pressure on Microsoft during these talks and I won’t be surprised if the Finnish company gets a much better deal this time.

HERE Maps logo
Image credits to Nokia HERE

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