As Apple doubles down on maps data, Microsoft bows out with sale of some Bing Maps assets to Uber

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
Uber is set to acquire the imagery collection unit of Microsoft's Bing Maps division --?giving the ridesharing service a leg up as it seeks to lessen its dependence on mapping products from Apple and potential rival Google --?in a deal that will see Microsoft end its own in-house mapping data efforts.


Uber's mapping efforts will help its current business as well as its future autonomous vehicle plans.


Approximately 100 Bing Maps employees will make the move to Uber along with unspecified mapping "assets," according to TechCrunch. Financial terms of the agreement remain unknown.

Microsoft will reportedly continue to offer Bing Maps using data licensed from third parties, though it's unclear if Uber will be among those vendors following the transition. The company told Re/code that the sale is designed to let the remaining maps team focus on the user experience.

"Over the past year, we have taken many actions to focus the company's efforts around our core business strategy," Microsoft said. "In keeping with these efforts, we will no longer collect mapping imagery ourselves, and instead will continue to partner with premium content and imagery providers for underlying data while concentrating our resources on the core user experience. With this decision, we will transfer many of our imagery acquisition operations to Uber."

Microsoft's exit casts Apple's decision to ramp up its own mapping data program as an even more important strategic move. Uber is unlikely to license its maps --?instead leveraging them as a competitive advantage against the likes of Lyft --?making one fewer available source for high-quality geospatial data.

That already-small circle could contract even further if Uber is successful in its bid for Nokia's Here Maps, which is thought to have topped $3 billion.

Mapping has long been a killer app for mobile devices and is quickly becoming the next Silicon Valley battleground. In addition to the future enhancements likely to emerge from Apple's expanded ground truth operations, iOS 9 will bring a slew of long-awaited additions, notably transit directions that will allow users to choose routes that include public transportation options like trains, buses, and subways.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 924member

    As Ballmer's legacy slouches into the sunset...

  • Reply 2 of 12
    gerritgerrit Posts: 28member

    "Uber is unlikely to license its maps..."

     

    You might have it backwards. Uber has a fleet of cars roaming nearly every major city, 24 hours a day. Uber is in a unique position to pop a rooftop ornament with gps, lidar and a camera on the roof of those cars, and create mapping data that is constantly updated.

     

    It would put Apple and Google's attempts to map those cities to shame and Uber would get it virtually for free. Licensing that accurate, exceedingly up-to-date mapping data could end up being a big business. That goes double in a future world of self-driving cars.

     

    Uber's other experiments have been about taking what they already have (their fleet of cars) and finding new ways to monetize it. (Hot sandwiches and package delivery.) I think licensing that data fits right in.

  • Reply 3 of 12
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gerrit View Post

     

    You might have it backwards. Uber has a fleet of cars roaming nearly every major city, 24 hours a day. Uber is in a unique position to pop a rooftop ornament with gps, lidar and a camera on the roof of those cars, and create mapping data that is constantly updated.


     

    That's not as useful as you think. You're going to get the airport updated 100x a day and suburban, residential and rural areas updated in... never.

     

    Just take an example from cell phone drive testing companies. One of them made a deal to install their system in UPS trucks. A system mounted on UPS, FedEx, trash trucks and especially USPS delivery vehicles would have much better long tail coverage at virtually the same cost.

     

    That's not to say that Uber isn't thinking along the same lines as you are.

  • Reply 4 of 12
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gerrit View Post

     

    Uber's other experiments have been about taking what they already have (their fleet of cars) and finding new ways to monetize it. (Hot sandwiches and package delivery.) I think licensing that data fits right in.


     

    There's also the question of whether the Uber model is sustainable.

    Certainly it's disruptive, but there's possibility that the appetite for 'public' delivery by may be temporary.

  • Reply 5 of 12
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,254member
    Wow, it seems to me this really shows how the PC (as in Wintel Box) is all but dead as mass market product. If the once much touted dominance of Windows PCs amongst everyday users still had a shred of truth this would not be happening. Microsoft simply no longer has a platform a lot of people use.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,329member
    Wow, it seems to me this really shows how the PC (as in Wintel Box) is all but dead as mass market product. If the once much touted dominance of Windows PCs amongst everyday users still had a shred of truth this would not be happening. Microsoft simply no longer has a platform a lot of people use.
    There's a long way to go before the dust on that battle is settled. On desktops Apple have the important profitable segment but midrange to bargain trashcan it will still be a MS monopoly.
    Totally different story mobile wise.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    orthorimorthorim Posts: 143member
    This is about self-driving cars. Uber drivers don't need better maps - they're locals, they have Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze. Robot cars, however will need the best maps they can get.

    How does Uber have so much money anyway? Jeez.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    orthorimorthorim Posts: 143member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by singularity View Post





    There's a long way to go before the dust on that battle is settled. On desktops Apple have the important profitable segment but midrange to bargain trashcan it will still be a MS monopoly.

    Totally different story mobile wise.



    MS Monopoly is over. They still have the vast majority of desktop installs but desktop is being dwarfed by mobile. Internet access is moving to mobile almost wholesale, computers are going to be, as Steve Jobs once said, the Pickup Trucks of computing. They're going to be used in companies and for work, but all leisure use is going mobile. 

     

    There are already way more smartphones than PCs and that trend is only going to increase. PCs (as in Mac and PC desktops) are the minority. 

  • Reply 9 of 12
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,569member
    First I do not use Uber, no need and if I did I probably think twice about it due to some of the ethical issue around Uber's pass activives.

    However, unless an Uber driver is using Waze with it traffic avoidance algorythems I would not step foot in a Uber car. The people I know who have used Uber say most drivers have no clue where they are driving and fail to understand traffic patterns and navigate directly into traffic. Yep the ride is cheaper most time than a cab, but most time you arrive late becuases they are stuck in traffic or lost. My son who uses uber tell me all the time he pulls out his iphone and waze and tells the driver where to go becuase he got tired of them getting stuck in traffic or taking some long route to get to a place. It appears some driver only know a few ways to get to a place and they will drive out of their way to get on roads they are familar with.

    I do not think having general maps and turn by turn driving instruction is not enough today for your part time hobby driver. If you ever used a cab in a large city and the driver is a long time driver they know how to get you around the city quickly. Most Uber drivers are noobs and you relying on them to get you where you need to be on time.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,569member
    gerrit wrote: »
    "Uber is unlikely to license its maps..."

    You might have it backwards. Uber has a fleet of cars roaming nearly every major city, 24 hours a day. Uber is in a unique position to pop a rooftop ornament with gps, lidar and a camera on the roof of those cars, and create mapping data that is constantly updated.

    It would put Apple and Google's attempts to map those cities to shame and Uber would get it virtually for free. Licensing that accurate, exceedingly up-to-date mapping data could end up being a big business. That goes double in a future world of self-driving cars.

    Uber's other experiments have been about taking what they already have (their fleet of cars) and finding new ways to monetize it. (Hot sandwiches and package delivery.) I think licensing that data fits right in.

    Interesting view, and they could give drivers the added bonus if they mount a system on their car.

    However, Uber cars do not drive everywhere only the most popluar points in a major city. Those camera are for street view, which does not really help (okay i understand some stupid people need street view to know if they standing in front of the right place when they get there).

    In the end uber street maps will only be a subset of all street used and most time they will have a lot of data on a few main streets which I am not sure how this would be useful to most people.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 924member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gerrit View Post

     

    Uber has a fleet of cars roaming nearly every major city, 24 hours a day. Uber is in a unique position to pop a rooftop ornament with gps, lidar and a camera on the roof of those cars, and create mapping data that is constantly updated.


     

    Maybe in a few years.  Have you seen any of the Google/Apple/TomTom data capture vehicles in person, or observed them in operation?  It's currently not as simple/cheap as you're implying.

     

    For now, driving a data capture vehicle demands patience and attention to detail.  I wouldn't want my Uber driver distracted by that kind of multi-tasking.

  • Reply 12 of 12
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,254member
    There's a long way to go before the dust on that battle is settled. On desktops Apple have the important profitable segment but midrange to bargain trashcan it will still be a MS monopoly.
    Totally different story mobile wise.

    Then there are insufficient folks buying the trashcans that used MS maps. Which ever way you cut it Microsoft is headed for TWA and PAN AM like status.

    Another measure of this is the fact that news that MS is throwing in the towel on mapping illicits more comments about Uber than Microsoft. If this had happened a few years back it would have been front page news from the Microsoft angle even in non tech media.
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