In what could deem as a likely move to bolster its own mapping network, Uber on Monday acquired a portion of assets from Microsoft’s Bing, including around 100 engineers from Bing’s mapping technology. The two companies confirmed the announcement to TechCrunch, though did not reveal the terms and conditions of the new deal.
Uber has been trying to strengthen its own mapping business, which currently is heavily dependent on Google’s mapping technology. Joining hands with Bing would help the company develop its own mapping systems and related software that goes with it. Not only would this help Uber’s core taxi service business, but would also bolster its other logistics-related business including Uber Fresh along with UberPool, its latest carpooling service.
The move in particular underscores Uber’s ambition to be the dominant force when it comes to taxi services on a global scale, which already uses a combination of mapping services from Google, Apple and China’s Baidu. Last month, Uber reportedly submitted a $3 billion bid to buy Nokia’s mapping technology Here Maps, which is rather a clear indication of the company’s future goals.
From the viewpoint of Microsoft, it’s rather baffling to see the Redmond giant sell a major portion of Bing, as it has been rather adamant over the years that Bing is not the kind of asset it’ll ever let go off. With this new move, the company will no longer collect mapping imagery all by itself, though it did say that they will continue working with imagery providers for its own Maps, who still relies on Finland’s Nokia for its maps data.
“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,” said Microsoft on the acquisition.
Microsoft also said on Monday that it’ll hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc., in an attempt to cut down its unprofitable online operations. The Windows maker has reportedly lost over $10 billion over the past five years for its online services, though CEO Satya Nadella believes that Bing will have the potential to turn into a fiscal profit by next year.
“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” said Microsoft in a statement.