Uber is purchasing some of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing’s mapping technology along with 100 of its engineers. Uber is also purchasing a data center in Colorado, cameras and licenses to certain Microsoft intellectual property. Microsoft obtains most of its map data from Nokia Corporation (ADR)(NYSE:NOK) and others. However, it had been gathering its own aerial, 3-D and street level maps. Microsoft will get those images from its partners from now on.
It has been a well-known fact that Uber was looking at developing its own mapping product or sourcing talent to reinforce its mapping system. Presently Uber leverages Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Maps technology for mapping. However, Bing’s technology would let the firm build its own mapping software and data.
This would assist not only Uber’s driving venture but also its other logistics-related businesses such as UberFresh, its food delivery service and UberPool, its carpooling service. Uber already utilizes a mix of map services from Google, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and China’s Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) which it intends to continue.
In March this year, Uber took over deCarta, a mapping technology startup. Uber has also aggressively hired mapping engineering talent throughout Silicon Valley. Uber had previously made a bid to acquire Nokia’s mapping product, “Here”. This was an unexpected move for the company that doesn’t have a history of many acquisitions. Curiously Microsoft has maintained for years that it wouldn’t let go of Bing.
Both Uber and Microsoft acknowledged the purchase without giving out details. Microsoft described the deal as part of a strategy to concentrate on its core products. The company said it wouldn’t gather mapping imagery on its own from now on. They would associate with premium content and imagery providers for the same.
A Uber spokeswoman said that Mapping was core to Uber’s business. Uber would collaborate with partners and build their own technology to deliver a superior user experience.
Microsoft has not done street level image collection on the magnitude of Google. However, Uber could rapidly improve on the data as it is running an enterprise with hundreds of thousands of cars operating around the world each day.
Sources: recode, gadgets.ndtv