Nokia HERE Maps has withdrawn offline support for China, Hong Kong and Macau on Android. If your version HERE Maps still offers it, don’t accept the latest update.
As a Windows Phone enthusiast I’m always sure to update my HERE Maps before any trip, the offline location search and navigation are the best available on Mobile. Since I am in the middle of my Zenfone 2 Review and was on my way to Shenzhen for IDF 2015, I thought I would check out the Android version. To my surprise China, Hong Kong and Macau were no longer supported for offline download.
Dr. Sebastian Kurme, Communications Manager at Nokia confirmed that the region was no longer going to be receiving support.
China is not currently a primary focus market for HERE. While China – like many other markets – will see a greater role for location services as connectivity becomes more pervasive, the regulatory environment means that we have not been able to apply the same business model in China that we have had success with elsewhere. Chinese rules prevent us as a foreign entity developing and owning the map. As such, the market is not attractive to HERE right now, but we’ll continue to monitor the regulatory developments.
HERE Maps has recently been in the news as Nokia is exploring options for sale. Potential buyers include taxi app Uber, various private-equity groups and a consortium of German car manufacturers. According to Bloomberg, bids are expected as soon as the end of the month. HERE operates in a tricky market as its main rival, Google, gives away its product for free. HERE’s business model is based on three opportunities: car navigation, asset management for enterprise and selling mapping information to big internet players like Amazon or Microsoft, who would prefer an alternative to Google.
In China currently all Google services are being blocked and it is not new that tight Internet control is being exercised. I had quite a difficult time keeping a stable VPN to upload videos to my YouTube channel (Express VPN was the only one that still worked for me, and you’ll need to have everything installed before you arrive). What is interesting is that HERE is able to maintain support on Windows Phone and not an Android.