Earlier today, Microsoft announced the sale of some its mapping technology to Uber, which includes the transfer of 100 of its employees to the global ride service. Uber has been on the lookout for such acquisitions lately; it's also believed to be part of a bidding consortium interested in buying HERE Maps from Nokia.
Microsoft has said many times that it has no plans to sell off its Bing search engine, or to withdraw from the search market - unsurprising, given that its technology is deeply integrated across much of its product portfolio. But with today's asset sale to Uber, Microsoft has revealed that it will no longer collect its own mapping data.
In a statement to Re/code today, Microsoft said [emphasis ours]:
Over the past year, we have taken many actions to focus the company’s efforts around our core business strategy. In keeping with these efforts, 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.
Much of the mapping data that Microsoft bakes into Bing Maps is actually acquired from third parties already, including the likes of Nokia's HERE Maps. However, Microsoft has also been collecting its own aerial, 3D and 'Streetside' street-level imagery for its service, but this data collection will now end.
Bing Maps will live on - it's not going anywhere, for now - but Microsoft will now license all of its mapping data from third-party providers. As it explained in its statement, its development efforts for Bing Maps will now focus solely on building and extending the user experience for the service.