Why Apple Should Buy Nokia To Fix Their Mapping Disaster

Why Apple Should Buy Nokia To Fix Their Mapping Disaster

Yes, we know, Apple Maps sucks. You hate it. It’s the biggest screw up the company’s seen since MobileMe. Maybe even worse. But it’s totally fixable, and Apple might not need to do anything more than just open up their wallet and buy one of the most intriguing tech companies right now that is struggling big time – Nokia.

Right now there are three major players in the mobile maps business: Google, Apple, and Nokia. Everyone applauds Google Maps for having the best data and interface, but Nokia has been doing maps for a long time now, and they have access to even more data than Google. They’re also in a financial deathspiral which makes them the perfect company for Apple to acquire to fix their mapping problem.

The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal has published some fascinating articles about modern day mapping lately. Last month he argued that no one can compete with Google’s Maps because they have the most data after driving 5 million miles in Street View cars. But did you know that UPS drives 3.3 billion miles a year and they track all of their trucks GPS data?

If a company were to gain access to UPS’s GPS driving data they would make Google Maps’ data look as bad as, well, Apple Maps. And it turns out that Nokia is the company that recieves the GPS data from both FedEx and UPS according to Madrigal’s latest article.

“We get over 12 billion probe data points per month coming into the organization,” said Nokia SVP Cliff Fox. “We get probe data not only from commercial vehicles like FedEx and UPS trucks, but we also get it from consumers through navigation applications.”

“The system that they have for tracking the UPS trucks is different form the way the maps application works on the Nokia device. You’ll have differences on the amount of times per minute they ping their location, though typically it’s every 5 to 15 seconds. It’ll give you a location, a direction, and a speed as well.”

Nokia can use all of the data from UPS and FedEx to identify new or changed roads, and in 2012 they identified 65,000 road segments. The only problem for Nokia is that their Location & Commerce unit lost 1.5 billion euros last year. They’re making great maps, they just can’t make money off them, which makes them a great acquisition target for Apple.

Nokia has been working on maps for a long ass time now. They bought a geographic information systems company called Navteq way back in 2007 for $8 billion. That’s a lot of money to spend on a maps company when you consider it’s only a little bit less than Nokia’s current market value which is about $10billion.

All that fancy mapping ability really isn’t helping Nokia sell more smartphones though. Nokia’s market value has dropped down 93% since 2007 even though they’re finally making some of the most intriguing smartphones on the market.

Apple could just acquire the Location and Commerce unit, or they could acquire the entire company, which might be a deathblow for Windows Phone 8. The only company designing unique, great looking smartphones right now is Nokia. The Lumia 900 and the Lumia 920 are stunning and they’d fit in with Apple’s design ethos. Hell, Apple even had prototypes that look similar to Nokia’s injection molded beauties. Apple doesn’t need Nokia’s hardware, but it wouldn’t hurt to rope them in while they’re acquiring the elixir to cure Apple’s mapping woes, so why not go for it?

  • fraydog

    I’m not sure the Finnish people would take kindly to this. Would they let Apple acquire Nokia?

  • Mirage299

    Mmmmm interesting if they did

  • gettysburg11s

    I think you are being a bit overdramatic (to gain readership? advertisers?). Apple Maps works fine. Is it as good as Google Maps is? No, and people shouldn’t have thought it would be. Google has many years of lead time on Apple. That being said, my experience with Apple Maps has been mostly positive. Its very fast, and is much better looking, which makes it easier to read. I am sure Apple will fix cosmetic flaws quickly, and map data will have to build up the old fashion way. With time.

    Anyways, buying Nokia’s Map business would be a great idea, but I don’t see it happening. That would be like shooting Microsoft in the foot. Nokia would need to be a lot worse off before that happens.

  • mudiaga12

    Stupid and pointless article. The author clearly has nothing better to write about. We all know that Apple will never ever buy Nokia so why write a pointless article. Everyone knows that Google maps is better than Maps. Apple has already acknowledged that. For me Maps works great when it comes to turn by turn directions. Why drag this argument on and on?

  • Buster

    @gettysburg11s my opening sentences were completely overdramatic in an exasperated sort of way. I’d love for people to stop talking about how crappy Apple Maps is and come up with some solutions rather than “this would never happen if Jobs were alive” or “fire Cook!” or “Fire FORESTALL!”

  • Buster

    @mudiaga12 why are you saying that apple would never buy nokia? just because they’re an apple competitor?

  • mudiaga12

    @Buster Cos its not gonna happen.

  • djkikrome

    Apple’s Map app is working fine for me and others I know and we are all loving it. And I can see Apple buying into the maps of nokia in return for free royalty use by Nokia and injecting money into Nokia for their business where it will not affect after phones in market.

    Great idea.

  • technochick

    Buster’s logic – Apple Maps sucks, in his opinion. But instead of fixing it they should use someone else.

    Yeah, that makes sense. As does buying a whole company to get one thing out of it

  • technochick

    @gettysburg11s my opening sentences were completely overdramatic in an exasperated sort of way. I’d love for people to stop talking about how crappy Apple Maps is and come up with some solutions rather than “this would never happen if Jobs were alive” or “fire Cook!” or “Fire FORESTALL!”

    I don’t buy that. I think you were serious and this is your ‘defense’ of being called out for a stupid idea.

    If I’m wrong then you need to go back to writing school cause a joke you have to explain is a failed one and this one failed big time.

  • aepxc

    This is the first big acquisition suggestion for Apple that looks reasonable to me. It shoots MS’s phone efforts, quickly gives Apple great mapping data (to use with Apple’s superior UI and vector graphics), transfers some interesting component tech (camera optics, touchscreen sensors), and provides good insight into and relationships in the developing world (Apple, with a history of making products that its own designers and engineers would love, is very first-world centric).

    And Nokia is both getting quite cheap and seems like a decent cultural fit (also a strong design focus).

  • DarrenGriffin

    And what about TomTom whom you’ve completely overlooked. They bough TeleAtlas, Nokia bought Navteq, both are pretty equal in terms of maps.

  • iSteve

    @gettysburg11s my opening sentences were completely overdramatic in an exasperated sort of way. I’d love for people to stop talking about how crappy Apple Maps is and come up with some solutions rather than “this would never happen if Jobs were alive” or “fire Cook!” or “Fire FORESTALL!”

    Buster,

    This a place where we, Apple die hard fans share our views about Apple and it’s competitors.

    How coming up with solutions will make Apple performs better? No way! Apple has already it’s world class SVP team gearing up to make it the world’s best and also ensure the legacy of Steve. And WE trust them 100% and believe in their work.

    Also, Apple == Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs == Apple. Period.

    But I respect a lot your work and keep it up.

  • BiggzD

    I don’t understand why you would even write this article, OpenStreetMap’s have over 8 times the amount of data that Apple does, but it is both FREE! & Open Source licensed, so if Apple really wanted to bolster how well Apple Maps worked for everyone, they should spend every waking hour ripping OSM’s data into their database, and give OSM a nice little licensed thank you.

  • alexkhan2000

    It’s an interesting idea. Nokia’s market cap is $9.9 billion as of today. It’s not like Nokia is out of Apple’s financial reach. But I highly doubt that Apple would spend $12~13 billion just to fix the Maps issue, which has been blown way out of proportion. Also, I don’t think it’s in Apple’s DNA to absorb another very large company with a well-recognized brand name. Culturally, the two just wouldn’t mesh.

    Strictly from a business standpoint, one possible direction could be having Nokia be the low-end volume driver with the iOS installed. Nokia has a major presence in emerging markets and is still the number two mobile phone vendor by volume behind Samsung. The positives for Nokia from Apple’s perspective are:

    1. Strong brand name in the mobile phone market
    2. Not Android
    3. Phones have distinctive look and identity
    4. Big patent portfolio
    5. Yes, good Maps technology
    6. Economies of scale
    7. Strong in emerging markets around the world
    8. Hates Samsung

    There are interesting possibilities. All this being said, I still it’s highly unlikely that Apple would acquire a company like Nokia. I just don’t think Apple’s entrenched culture is right for managing another brand and company.

  • Aaron

    How about this: Apple buys Nokia… makes Nokia an OEM to making iPhones! Keep the two divisions of Apple separate, but equal… making sure neither steps on each other’s toes too much… all the while, sharing great maps and giving customers “choices”. :)

  • marclequime

    Don’t know where to start.

    1. Nokia has far too much pride to allow themselves to be bought by Apple

    2. Why do you always go for the most ridiculously extreme options? Instead of ‘Apple should hire some better maps technicians’, it’s APPLE MUST BUY ONE OF THE OLDEST AND GREATEST PHONE MAKERS

  • marclequime

    Don’t know where to start.

    1. Nokia has far too much pride to allow themselves to be bought by Apple

    2. Why do you always go for the most ridiculously extreme options? Instead of ‘Apple should hire some better maps technicians’, it’s APPLE MUST BUY ONE OF THE OLDEST AND GREATEST PHONE MAKERS

  • Alex Yovko

    Apple maps isn’t bad at all. Ya the 3D feature when you zoom in really close isnt great but who cares. Apple maps always gets me to my destination and the turn by turn navigation is awesome. People need to quit saying and writing that’s it’s so terriable. If you have truly used it like I have than you would know its not bad at all. Does it need improving? You betcha!! But it’s not anywhere near as horrible as most people make it out to be. By the way Apple maps interface is a lot better and better technology than googles maps. Google it and you will find what the pros are saying about Apples maps vs Google maps interface. I believe I even read something about it here on cult of Mac.
    P.S APPLE MAPS ISN’T BAD. SO QUIT WRITING ABOUT IT. IT’S GETTiNG OLD!!!! O ya and Apple would never buy Nokia. They would never do such a thing.

  • JacksMacintosh

    And if they do acquire Nokia, they might even side-step a lawsuit over the new Nanos looking a lot like the Lumia 900 & Co. …

  • aepxc

    Nokia has far too much pride to allow themselves to be bought by Apple

    Nokia is a public company and shareholders strongly prefer money to pride. The employees have pride and some might leave, but in this economy?

  • TheMacGuy

    I have been using the Apple Maps for a couple weeks like everyone else, and have found very minor issues. I saw a local school with a wrong address in their profile, and a food mart marked as a gas station. I have the iPhone 4, so I don’t get Turn-By-Turn navigation or Flyover, but a friends iPhone 4S has Turn-By-Turn and my iPad 2 has Flyover, and I’m amazed by both. In fact, Turn-By-Turn is amazingly accurate. I have seen little issues, but nothing worth writing home about. Since Apple still has that contract with Google, I wish they would have put in Google’s Street View in areas that don’t have Flyover, and eventually they would have Flyover completed and they could drop Street View. Apple taking over Nokia is not a bad idea, it would help the Maps app, but the app works fine, and I don’t see Apple spending $12-$14 Billion to fix an app that they could fix with software they have already purchased or can use for free/nearly free.

  • kavi

    Poor fanboys, they are so desperate to beg google to bring maps againt ios, now even more to suggesting buying nokia for maps??? Retarded or is it just looks like it to me. Spend some time on developing your forte rather than taunting some ubsurd articles like. Do u really think apple could buy nokia? Note down its not gonna happen in this century. Why not buy every company out there,… Bhaah… Sorry isheeps… Now newly rich man is out shopping some stupid things for his stupid home… Wake up…

  • 5imo

    Couldn’t Apple just licence the data and skin the maps as the data is accurate but ugly as shit, same problem with bing maps, and there’s no chance they would buy Nokia as they have 10’s of thousands of employees thats not an acquisitions thats closer to a merger Apple has historically only done small acquisitions of companies.

  • pyrocat

    OOOHHHHH NOOOOOOOO. Nokia is better than that. Apple would ruin it. So what. Americans don’t like Nokia. This is a marketing problem, not a quality problem. N-series phones are excellent, and many have been light years ahead of Apple in many ways.

    For Apple to “buy” Nokia for it’s maps is no different from their mugging Samsung, because Apple is a MARKETING company that has had problems with programming for years. Apple copies, not the other way around, but they call it research and acquisitions instead of plagiarizing and stealing.

    Please, no. Nokia has been more original and creative than Apple has ever been, but their US marketing has been atrocious.

    I’ll have to buy my 5th Nokia phone–2nd Nokia smart phone–before Apple ruins it with no ports or card slots, glued together, using pentalobe screws.

    GIVE US A BREAK!!

  • vonchambers

    Nokia isn’t for sale and even if they were Microsoft would buy them way, way, way before Apple would/could.

  • CharilaosMulder

    It’s not a disaster and buying nokia is way too expensive for such a minor issue. I’d rather see Apple save some more and eventually buy Google. You know, for Search. And to stop the development of everything else like they did with Sparrow and Snapseed (and even messed up YouTube).

  • RJENK

    “All that fancy mapping isn’t helping Nokia sell more smartphones”? And yet you still recommend Apple buy Nokia for that fancy mapping? Now that’s what we call “genuine stupidity!”

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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