Nokia has announced that they will invest $100 million into companies and products that will be important to the "connected and intelligent vehicles" of the future. The new venture capital fund will seek to invest in (among other things) the mapping and location services that have become a big part of the cellphone maker's business.
Nokia itself has been heavily focused on location services since 2008, when it purchased map provider Navteq. They also acquired the 3-D map technology company Earthmine in 2012. Currently, Nokia provides map data to Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, and several car navigation systems.
Rajeev Suri, Nokia President and CEO, believes that the "connected car" market will bring significant growth and a solid return on investment. Considering they are pouring $100 million into this venture fund, Nokia had better hope people like smart cards more than they like Smart Cars.
Paul Asel, partner at Nokia Growth Partners (which will manage the fund), said, "For the last few years there has been a surge in innovation that has brought technological advances leading to safer, cleaner, increasingly connected, intelligent and more affordable vehicles. Vehicles are becoming a new platform for technology adoption very similar to phones or tablets." Asel plans to lead the venture fund by investing in companies that specialize in auto ecosystems, local services and personal mobility.
The connected vehicle market is heating up, as Nokia will be up against the likes of Google and Apple. Google is already working with car manufacturers to integrate the Android operating system into dashboards, not to mention their extensive work on self-driving vehicles. Apple has CarPlay, available in select 2014 car models, which offers the iOS experience on your dash. Because Google and Nokia both have mammoth location systems in their portfolios, it is likely they will go head-to-head on a location services feature in the future.