Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2012 19:24 UTC
Apple "The major new feature of the company's new iOS 6 mobile operating system is a new mapping module developed by Apple itself - a replacement for the Google-supplied maps that have been standard on the iPhone since it debuted in 2007. It is a change borne not of user demand, but of corporate politics: Google's Android platform is the biggest competitive threat to the iPhone, so Apple is cutting ties with Google. iPhone owners might have loved Google Maps, but Apple has no love for Google. Unfortunately, Apple's new maps are simply not as good as Google's." That's putting it mildly - my own town barely even exists on Apple's maps. It's basically a trainwreck, and according to The Verge, Apple has been working on this for the past five years. This is what happens when a company cares more about stupid grudges than its customers. Considering how much effort it has taken Google to get where it is now with maps, don't expect Apple's maps to even get near Google Maps any times soon. This isn't going to take months - this is going to take several years, if at all.
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RE: Comment by Stephen!
by Tony Swash on Thu 20th Sep 2012 22:34 UTC in reply to "Comment by Stephen!"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

The Apple - Google maps divorce is, I suspect, a mutually agreed separation. Apple's existing mapping agreement with Google is approaching to it's expiration date and neither seem to want to continue with the relationship.

Apple is caught between a rock and hard place on the maps issue. When iOS and the iPhone was first conceived Apple felt so confident about being dependent on Google for some core services such as Maps that it worked closely with Google before the launch of the first iPhone to write what was, at the time, the most advanced implementation of Google maps on any mobile device. Apple felt able to have an intimate and close relationship with Google, to the point of inviting Google's CEO onto it's board, because it felt that the two companies businesses did not overlap and there was no competition between them. But then Google redesigned Android to directly compete with iOS and effectively launched a competitive attack on Apple's new flagship product. Worse was to follow as Google began introducing Map features such as turn-by-turn navigation to the Android version of it's mobile mapping offering but not to it's iOS version.

Clearly Apple could not continue to be dependent on Google for its core mapping function with the threat of that function slowly degrading in comparison with the Android mapping function and the possibility of Google pulling the plug on it's iOS maps at some point in the future. Apple needed a mapping plan B. So it set about buying various mapping companies and hiring mapping talent but it had, and still as, a lot of catching up to do compared to Google's head start with mapping.

So when the Apple-Google mapping agreement approached its expiration date it is no surprise that Apple decided to take the opportunity to cut the cord tying it's mapping system to Google. It's also no surprise that it's initial offering is in some areas weaker than Google's, mapping data gets better primarily through usage and not through design and it will take a while for Apple to accumulate the sort of usage data that Google already has.

I suspect that Google was also prepared for the end of it's relationship with Apple. Google almost certainly wants to insert ads into mapping (something Apple won't accept on an Apple made bundled app but would probably accept on a stand alone Google maps app) because Google has to insert more ads in more places in all its offerings because it's revenue per click has been declining so drastically in recent quarters.

But Apple dropping Google maps doesn't just degrade Apple's maps, at least initially, it also undermines Google's mobile maps because mapping data gets better primarily through usage and not through design and at least half of Google's mobile map usage just went away. Half. So Google's maps will get worse (or at least stop getting better) whilst Apple gets to use all the usage by iOS users to enhance it's map offering.

In addition the way Apple has implemented the mapping feature is as a core OS service which can be used by developers to develop all sorts of new and interesting mapping apps and services. It's via third party apps that Apple wants transit info to be available on it's maps for example but it hopes for all sorts of new mapping initiatives from its large developer community. This is something that was impossible using the old closed Google mapping system where Google jealousy guarded core mapping functions and location data because such data is fundemental to Google's business model whilst it is peripheral to Apple's. So in a lovely ironic turn Apple has opened mapping on iOS compared to Google's closed approached.

It will be interesting to see whether Google offers it's own mapping app for iOS, if they want all that valuable data from iOS usage then they need to do something.

Apple is slowly inching away from Google search with deals with the likes of Yandex in Russia and and Baidu in China but it must tread carefully and slowly as Google's search offering will be a lot harder to replace.

And Apple isn't the only one inching away from Google.

While Apple builds it's map service the quickest way to deal with the interim inconvenience is to go to maps.google.com and then select 'Add to Home Screen'. Not perfect but it fixes most of the problems.

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