On-demand transportation service Uber lost out on its joint bid for Nokia’s Here mapping unit, so it’s moving ahead with putting together its own navigation, mapping and location services. Today, Dutch mapping company TomTom announced a deal to provide data to Uber for use in its navigation for Uber drivers (and specifically not Uber passengers). Specifically, Uber will use TomTom’s maps and traffic data “that will contribute to the navigation experience”, an Uber spokesperson tells TechCrunch.
The companies describe the deal as multi-year and global, with a focus on some 300 cities. Neither are disclosing the financial terms.
“We are excited to provide Uber with our best-in-class location data.” said Charles Cautley, Managing Director Maps & Licensing at TomTom, in a statement. “TomTom is a truly independent map provider with the platform for the future. With this platform, TomTom is the trusted partner for innovative and future proof location technology for the global automotive and consumer technology industry.”
“We look forward to working with TomTom, a leader in the mapping and navigation space,” said Matt Wyndowe, Head of Product Partnerships at Uber. “Their mapping and traffic data will help ensure we continue to provide a great experience for drivers everywhere.”
We have confirmed directly with Uber that TomTom will be providing data for the driving app alone. It is not replacing Google Maps, nor any other services that Uber currently uses.
“It’s part of the mix now,” the Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We use a variety of sources in addition to Google Maps, and will continue to.” That mix includes Uber’s own mapping assets, which include its acquisitions of Microsoft’s Bing mapping assets and startup deCarta.
(A potential separation from Google Maps was apparently the first question on many people’s minds in the wake of the announcement, according to one source at TomTom. That’s because many have highlighted how Google’s own ambitions in transportation will put it into direct competition with Uber. This would be a complicated rivalry, given that Uber uses Google Maps data and is a big investment for Google Ventures.)
The move to improve mapping data for drivers comes at a time when Uber is facing a lot of competition from a wave of other app-based on-demand transportation services, many of them focused on more local markets than Uber and its global footprint.
For drivers who work on contract in their own vehicles and are beholden to no specific service, having an app that is more accurate and efficient in terms of getting them from points A to B and providing the most solid location information could be a tipping point for them in deciding which service to drive for.
TomTom provides mapping data for its own range of GPS-navigation hardware, but it also works with a number of third parties, with its data especially strong in urban areas. Perhaps most famously, it started to work with Apple as one of several partners on its native Maps application after Apple ditched Google in favor of its own in-house data and service.
Shares for TomTom, valued at around €2.44 billion ($2.6 billion), were up over 5% in morning trading after the news came out.
Little sidenote: Uber already has a team in Amsterdam working on the company’s global mobile apps, making the integration process potentially a little easier. Geography, however, apparently wasn’t what brokered the deal in the first place.