Reports: Google Incredibly Didn’t Anticipate Being Dropped From iOS 6 Maps, “Scrambling” To Create App

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.

Contract Complications?

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!

Related Articles

Related Topics: Apple: Maps | Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://twitter.com/thelance Lance Haun

    So iOS users are left without a suitable maps option because Apple decided to launch a sub-par app. Google wasn’t ready and now they want to add a useless 3D function to compete with Apple’s similarly useless function? How about just focusing on delivering the Android version of Google maps to iOS?

  • http://twitter.com/rubyvrooom Marcos Lara

    i just created a web app home screen icon for maps.google.com and never thought twice about it.

  • http://kout.com/#/arkanciscan Jesse

    Why should Google be so eager to deliver a feature to a competitor’s product? Google Maps are Android’s killer app IMO. If I could get bicycle directions on an iOS device I might use one.

  • Robert Butler

    Personally, what’s really amazing is that there wouldn’t have been a non-competition clause in the contract. I’m pretty sure Google is smart enough to think ahead like that. Being as such, I think the premise of this rumor is bogus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cromwellian Ray Cromwell

    Amount of resources doesn’t matter, see Mythical Man Month. Developing an iOS app from scratch would take time, no matter how much resources you throw at it. And launching a half baked and rushed application that crashed, had rendering errors, or other failures would be just as bad. Mapping applications aren’t typical web apps, they’re far more complex.

    Why would it even be in Google’s interest to delay a mapping app? As people have noted when iOS6 maps were announced, it is a tremendous disadvantage to lose all of those users, the users are more important, regardless of whether it is iOS or Android, and those people have already bought iPhones, they’re not likely to sell them to pick up Android devices just because of maps.

    The motive and narrative doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is Apple keeping things murky so that Google would not have something to compete with IOS6 maps on day one. Apple has the motive to ensure that Google Maps isn’t available simultaneously with IOS6 maps.

    They don’t want users to have the choice because a direct comparison is unfavorable to them. They don’t want people getting in the habit of staying with Google Maps. They want users forced to use IOS6 maps and no Google alternative for some window of time until they get “used to it”, and then convincing people to switch from the builtin Maps to a third party software will be harder.

    Doesn’t that sound like a far more likely story? The motives for Apple are inline with stopping Google Maps, the motives for Google are actually to have their maps on every platform.

  • http://www.facebook.com/colinmsmith Colin Smith

    How about the fact that I, and many others, will not be upgrading to the iPhone5 or IOS6 because it doesn’t have Google Maps? Google might be dragging their feet to show how flawed the IOS maps system is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=535260227 Jeff Kean

    second last paragraph “I also explained how the contact” – is that supposed to be “contract” :)

  • https://plus.google.com/116060438179787966184 Salvatore Surra

    In the last paragraph: “I also explained how the contact itself might have other complications.”

    I think you mean contract here, right?

  • http://twitter.com/double_see_dee Travis

    That’s what he means by “competitive reasons”

  • John Redwood

    How many times can an article spell contract as contact… seriously..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_73WX644PUZQCJDMB7JMRT4PJHA Gumboz1953

    “The fact that the contract is still in force, however, apparently gave Google a false sense of security.”

    As a lawyer, I keep re-reading this sentence, trying to understand this total non-sequitur.

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