The latest twist in the tale of Google Maps coming back to the iPhone and iOS 6 devices is that Google apparently didn’t anticipate that it would be dropped by Apple as a mapping data provider. As a result, it’s lost time needed to create its own app. If true, that’s a pretty surprising lack of foresight on Google’s part.
Time On The Contract Clock
We reported last year that Google had renewed its deal with Apple to be a search and map data provider for iOS devices. The term of that deal, as with all deals Google’s done with Apple, weren’t revealed. But it was pretty likely to be a multiyear one that wouldn’t have expired by now.
In fact, since iOS 5 devices still have Maps that use Google information, that contract is almost certainly still being used, as is Google’s data. Apple’s simply not using it for iOS 6 devices, choosing to go with its own data and that from other providers.
Google Assumed It Was Safe
The fact that the contract is still in force, however, apparently gave Google a false sense of security. Yesterday, The Verge reported – citing two unnamed sources — that the Google-Apple contract still had a year to run when Apple announced in June that it would use its own data for Maps, catching Google off guard:
The decision, made sometime before Apple’s WWDC event in June, sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app — an app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months.
The New York Times, also citing two unnamed sources, reported the same. It highlighted another complication, from a different unnamed source, that Google wants to bring Google Earth imagery into a Google Maps app:
Google would likely prefer to release a maps app that includes 3-D imagery so it is comparable to Apple’s. But Google has 3-D images in Google Earth, which is a separate app with a separate code base from Google Maps, so it would take some time to combine the two.
The New York Times report also said that Google hopes to have the app ready by the end of the year.
It Wasn’t Ready? It’s Still Taking This Long?
It’s pretty bizarre that Google didn’t anticipate this, if true. According to a Wall Street Journal article in June (see our summary here), before Apple’s Maps announcement later that month, Google already suspected this would happen and certainly had signs for some time it was coming.
What’s stranger is the idea that Google still doesn’t have an app out. With all the resources the company has, it couldn’t develop an iOS app within three months? I find that hard to believe. The idea that it might be delayed in bringing in 3D imagery from Google Earth certainly could be a contributing factor, but a Google Maps app could always be upgraded later to add this.
After all, it’s not like criticisms of Apple’s own Maps have been eased by its flyover views. Such things are cool, but I think the core feature people want from any maps product is the ability for it to accurately find things, not show pretty pictures.
Of course, Google could be dragging its feet for competitive reasons, something I explained as a “bad” reason — if happening — in my post yesterday, The Good & Bad Scenarios About Why Google Hasn’t “Done Anything Yet” About Google Maps For iOS.
I also explained how the contract itself might have other complications. It might not just be that Google was caught off guard. There might be provisions in the contract that are also preventing it from submitting any Google Maps app.
But that’s speculation. Google’s not saying (which again might be related to the contract). So it’s back to wait-and-see, until more unnamed sources step up!
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- WSJ: Apple Has Been Planning Google Maps’ Ouster “For Years”
- Apple Gets Into Local Search With New Maps App
- Google On iOS 6 Maps App: “We Haven’t Done Anything Yet”
- Apple Asks For Patience, Would It Block A Google Maps App?
- The Good & Bad Scenarios About Why Google Hasn’t “Done Anything Yet” About Google Maps For iOS
- Local Search Cage Match: Google Vs. Apple Maps (And Siri)