Earlier this year, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia's devices and services business - but one component that wasn't part of that purchase was the Finnish company's mapping and location platform, HERE. Microsoft continues to use HERE mapping data in Bing Maps under a license agreement, but Nokia retains full control of the platform, as one of its core businesses.
The HERE Maps app remains available on Windows Phone, and it's unlikely to go away anytime soon. But in an interview with The Next Web, a Nokia executive has confirmed that the company is planning to significantly scale back its efforts on the Windows Phone front, as it moves to focus its resources instead on the much larger iOS and Android platforms.
Sean Fernback - Senior Vice President for Everyday Mobility at HERE - said: "As a result of the transaction [with Microsoft], we're having to wind down our Windows Phone app development and shift it over towards Android and iOS."
However, he was quick to emphasize that this doesn't mean the end of the road for its Windows Phone efforts; it simply means that the company will invest far less time and fewer resources in its development work for Microsoft's mobile OS.
When asked whether or not the sale of its devices business to Microsoft had resulted in a change of attitudes and focus at Nokia's HERE division, Fernback responded: "Not really, partly because today we still maintain the [HERE] Windows Phone apps; it has our brand on it, so we need to look after it."
He added that the company is "about to cease" its development work on HERE Maps for the defunct Nokia X Android platform, as it reallocates resources to focus on where they'll reach the most users. He continued: "I think there have been a number of different programs that have continued through the year onto different platforms, but now it's just going to focus on the two - Android and iOS."
Earlier this month, Nokia signed a deal with Samsung to bring HERE Maps to its Galaxy and Gear devices, but by the end of this year, the app will be available on other Android devices and on iOS.
HERE Maps previously launched on Apple's mobile OS last year, but it was quickly pulled from the App Store due to major rendering issues that made the app more or less unusable. Fernback acknowledged that this was Nokia's fault: "We basically made a silly mistake - when iOS 7 came out, there was a change in how the pixels were rendered, and it wasn't very well tested this end. When you pinched-to-zoom, you got this terrible effect."
But for its launch on Android and re-launch on iOS, Nokia has built HERE Maps from the ground up. Fernback said: "We have a master codebase which, the way we've structured it, means it's platform agnostic. So if we decided that we want to invest in [the] Windows Phone app again, we would take that new codebase and compile it for Windows."
The full interview is well worth a read, so be sure to check it out, and don't forget to come back to share your thoughts about Nokia's plans in the comments below.
Source: The Next Web
Update: In a comment on WPCentral, HERE's Pino Bonetti has posted some clarifications surrounding the comments made by Sean Fernback:
1. HERE is powering Windows Phone and that's not gonna change (for at least 10 years)
Microsoft entered a license agreement with HERE to use our mapping platform for at least 10 years. This is why you see HERE maps on Windows Phone not only in the HERE apps but also in the Facebook app, in the Foursquare app, in the Instagram app and many more, even in the Uber app.
2. Offline maps aren't going anywhere either
Licensing our mapping platform doesn't mean that Microsoft is only using our data, but thy have access to our full capability, including the possibility to store maps offline.
3. The more people use HERE the better it gets for everyone
Every cloud based service lives with user input. The more you use Amazon or Facebook, the better they get and we're not different. The more people use HERE, the better it gets for everyone. Don't you want better traffic info on your Windows Phone? That's why we have to enable also your friends with an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy to use HERE so that everyone can take advantage. We used to develop for "Windows Phone first", now "all OS are equal".
4. The map apps on Windows Phone will get better
We haven't stopped developing for Windows Phone, but we are discussing with Microsoft how to proceed. At the end, whether as a HERE app or not, your location experience on Windows Phone will improve. Btw, we updated the maps on Windows Phone just a short time ago and more updates are coming soon.