Fresh off selling its mobile-phone business to Microsoft, Nokia is turning its attention to another area potentially ripe for rapid technological change: smarter cars.
Nokia Growth Partners, the company's venture capital group, plans to invest $100 million into companies that bring more computing and communications technology to cars, the company said in conjunction with this week's Global Mobile Internet Conference.
"The car is really becoming a platform like when the mobile handset became a smartphone and all the apps and services developed around that," Nokia Growth partner Paul Asel told Bloomberg.
Nokia has a significant presence in auto electronics through its Navteq division, which supplies mapping and navigation data for vehicle sat-nav systems. Through its Here brand, Nokia's technology extends to smartphones and tablets, too; the company has 6,000 employees working on mapping technology. But much bigger changes are afoot that go beyond navigation and likely mean driving will become a profoundly different experience.
The auto industry,, is moving toward a more radical transformation involving , , that links cars into efficient highway trains, and .
"We're seeing innovation that's happening across the auto ecosystem through the combination of mobility and the Internet," Asel said.
Nokia has struggled financially in recent years as its mobile-phone business struggled competitively, but Nokia Growth Partners has been a bright spot,, said in a statement Monday.
"NGP has been consistently performing well bringing in both new innovation and financial return to Nokia," Suri said. "Our new $100 million venture fund launched today further underlines our belief that the connected car is a significant growth opportunity where NGP is poised to make great investments."
Updated at 12:28 a.m. PT with comment from Nokia's CEO.