The purchase will see three German auto makers — BMW, Audi, and, strictly speaking, Mercedes' parent company Daimler — jointly purchase the mapping service. The Wall Street Journal predicted the purchase two weeks ago, and at the time also suggested that the trio would also be looking for other manufacturers to invest in the new business.
They might not struggle. Nokia points out that HERE uses "data generated by vehicles, devices and infrastructure to deliver real-time, predictive and personalised location services" that "will enable an entirely new class of driver experiences, including highly automated driving." Digital maps are no longer just useful for humans; they will drive the autonomous machines on our streets, too.
It remains unclear what the purchase means for the mapping service as we know it, though. Currently available as an app on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, there's no telling what a consortium of automakers will do with it, aside from baking it into dashboards. We'll have to wait and see.