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[5]: Comment by Stephen!
by Tony Swash on Fri 21st Sep 2012 11:56 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Stephen!"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

"
I didn't say that Google controlled the Map app but it does control the whole infrastructure upon which Apple's Google maps runs.


@Tony. You mean, hardware infrastructure? Or the whole eco system of Apple's google maps? What do you expect for, Apple's Google maps will be powered under Apple's Cloud(If they have any), or at Microsoft's Azure, or at Amazon cloud?

The only thing that Apple will take control logically is the hosting of the application itself=Google Maps app for iOS. But they can't just fork the whol Google Maps infrastructure and run it under their private iCloud.
"

OK. I thought I wouldn't have to spell this out but I was wrong.

Mapping systems, like Google's and now Apple's, have a big infrastructural back end. Some of this infrastructure is the servers that the data is held on but that is the most trivial part. The most important part is the gathering of the actual mapping data (city and road maps, topographical information, business and landmark locations, route data etc, etc,) and that is a lot of complex data to collect, manage, make available in a usable form to map users and to keep up to date. On top of all that directly inputed data there is a very important layer of user generated data, this is in many ways the most important aspect of a mapping service, because as millions of map requests are made a tremendous amount of data is generated and collected which can be fed back into improving the complex data search algorithms that make the mapping requests work. This user data is also used by Google to implement it's core business, which is selling advertising, and a limited sub set of that data is sold on by Google to third parties to build, within limitations set by Google, their own maps implementations.

All that infrastructure I have just listed was owned and controlled by Google and delivered via an Apple written app in previous versions of iOS. Given that, as I have pointed out, since this arrangement was first made Google has gone from being a close partner of Apple to being a direct and very significant competitor and given the central importance of mapping in building a wide array of mobile services, it is hardly surprising that Apple does not want a central pillar of it's mobile services controlled by its main competitor in the mobile arena. I cannot see how that statement or Apple's move away from Google maps is in any way controversial or surprising.

Equally unsurprising is that V1 of Apple's mapping system is going to be creaky and patchy. What would have been surprising is if Apple had produced a V1 mapping system that was as comprehensive as Google's on day one, for a start Apple has no usage data to feed into it's map locations because it has not had any users of it's mapping system until this week. But now that will change. This week Google lost half it's mobile mapping users and Apple gained at least a couple of hundred million map users. This is a big shift with lots of profound implications.

The inadequacies of V1 of Apple maps is the least interesting thing about this initiative. Of more interest, and I am surprised that there is not more discussion about this in forums such as this, is the fact that Apple's maps system is so much more open than Googles. For a start Apple is using OpenStreetMap data for their maps ( http://www.geek.com/articles/apple/apple-iphoto-maps-2012039/ ) which should give a tremendous boost to the open mapping community and reduce the significance of closed proprietary map systems like Google's. I have read a lot on these forums that 'open' is better than 'closed' so I am still awaiting the wave of congratulatory support for Apple's mapping move.

Additionally Apple's mapping system is a core iOS system, one that will support many specific, and hopefully powerful, mapping initiatives from within the ranks of iOS developers who are now free of the limitations imposed by Google's closed mapping system and are now thus free to build some very powerful mapping solutions.

Google may well respond with it's own iOS mapping app but whatever happens this move will spur competition in the mapping arena and that can only be a good thing for consumers. The previous mapping monopoly that Google held in the mobile arena (Bing maps are all but irrelevant in mobile because Windows phones sell in such tiny numbers) was not healthy. Again given that so many rail against monopolies on these forums I am surprised that more people are not supporting the dismantling of Google's mapping monopoly.

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