Google’s Schmidt: “What Apple Has Learned Is That Maps Are Really Hard”

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, during an interview at the 92nd Street Y in New York last night, made the case that Apple should have kept Google Maps on the iPhone. “Apple’s done very well using our maps,” he joked.

When asked directly about a forthcoming iOS Google Maps app, Schmidt gave the familiar line that he didn’t want to “pre-announce” products. He also repeated another line he’s said before: “Apple would have to approve it.”

Multiple reports have effectively confirmed that Google is working on an iOS maps app. These reports also suggest that since the public announcement of Apple Maps in June Google has been working on this. Yet there are also seemingly contradictory reports asserting that Google was blindsided by the timing of Apple’s release of its own mapping product.

In contrast to those reports, Schmidt calmly asserted that Google anticipated Apple Maps “long ago” because of the various acquisitions the company made in the mapping space, starting in 2009 with Placebase. “We knew this was coming,” Schmidt explained.

When interviewer Walt Mossberg suggested Apple was motivated to do its own maps because of the absence of turn-by-turn navigation and the functionality gap between maps on Android and the iPhone, Schmidt sidestepped the question. “We had negotiated all these details with Apple and the fact of the matter is that they had decided a long time ago to do their own maps.”

I suspect we’ll never know exactly what happened between the companies and their negotiation over navigation and other mapping features. Google has suggested Apple was unreasonable in its demands and desire for control. But other reports argue that Google wanted to maintain key features as exclusive to the Android platform. As an aside, maps were apparently also a stumbling block in failed Nokia-Google negotiations over the Android platform (Nokia owns mapping provider Navteq).

“What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard,” said Schmidt. “We invested hundreds of millions of dollars in satellite work, airplane work, drive-by work to get the maps accurate. We think we have the best product in the industry.”

He added that he thought Apple Maps would also get better over time. The question is how long will that take and whether Apple will need to buy more companies to accelerate the process.

You can watch the full Eric Schmidt interview below.

Related Entries

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


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Barry Welford

    Perhaps underlying this is Google’s view that the smartphone should be just that, whereas with SIRI Apple is trying to make your phone a virtual assistant. That is a profound difference in starting point that may well mean you come up with very different products. Even the more limited Google viewpoint has produced a rocky road for Google Maps to this point. Only time will tell which approach will give a better user experience.

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    @Apple, hire me to do your maps! All you will need to do is provide me with an “Apple car” (perhaps a green beetle) with cameras on it, pay me for fuel, offer me a good wage and I will quite happily tour the world to give you what google has! lol

  • Cody Sharp

    Schmidt makes me laugh…at Apple. And when he says, “What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard”, not only was he being facetious, he is entirely correct.

  • Guest

    Perhaps Google and Apple should agree to make apps for each others platforms. That would solve a lot of problems! Let the users choose what works best for them rather than forcing an application upon them.

  • Elijah Lynn

    I will bet on Google over Apple in the long run. Google has more focus on innovating.

  • Roland Bechtel

    They should have started with basic maps and turn by turn functionality, adding 3-D cities and nonsense like that later. Map accuracy and arrival times based on conditions is AMAZING. Make that work first.

  • Emrah Atılkan

    the women hates Google, i hated her. she should be loving bending over Apple. Google making good products and make them free, good guy Google.

  • daveinallen

    Yes Eric .. It’s much easier to sit on apples board and steal all their ideas for google

  • Muhammad Ghazanfar

    it seems that apple would adapt google maps ultimately. If apple does so then its not a good news.

  • Maurice Walshe

    Not sure hard is the is the best way to describe it, mapping is a solved problem (ask the Ordinace Survey) its just that to do it properly its labour and time intensive.

  • PeterCaoLaser

    Eric Schmidt
    had lost his credibility when he got involved into fascism crimes which had
    endangered human lives


    There is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism, at this stage,
    fascism still prevails in our lives, Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele
    Scheler are just front figures we could see in this fascism circle, there is a
    whole pack of fascists behind them

    Eric, as we can
    see, starting from Gabriele Scheler’s atrocity case on Stanford campus back in
    2004, many people, including Gabriele Scheler, Sebastian Thrun, you Eric
    Schmidt, and also your colleague in China Kaifu Lee, had made contributions to
    such fascism crimes which had cost human life of Stanford student May Zhou and
    crimes which had retaliated on victims and almost cost life of the victim as I
    am …

    … … and someone
    who had provided legal coverage for your fascism crimes, including a powerful
    officer from Santa Clara DA Office, namely ZZZ (and after ZZZ, another officer
    YYY), and the officer VVV who’s in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case and who
    had further collateralled with your side(suspect Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun
    and Gabriele Scheler’s side) to conspire and curse victims( Stanford, May Zhou,
    me) in every possible way since 2006 till today; and maybe include the officer
    RRR who insist on May Zhou’s death as a suicide or accident, even though I had
    clearly pointed out who’s involved in May Zhou’s murder case …

    … … and someone
    who could provide political support for your fascism crimes, including top
    politician from the country of Germany whom we all know — Angela Merkel,
    Chancellor of Germany, and maybe include a retired top politician from UK as
    well, etc. and more and more to find out later …


    I believe, though some names missed out, all names mentioned in the above
    comment are part of this fascism circle

  • PeterCaoLaser

    “Why? Well Cao claims that in 2004, while a Stanford student, he
    was assaulted by a female colleague… … … explanation is that the matter was dealt
    with on campus and no formal charges were ever brought.”

    ——— The
    underhanded ruling against me by certain malicious officers ZZZ/YYY/VVV on
    Gabriele Scheler’s recanted testimony to accuse me for ‘sexual assault’ is the
    most shameless accusation in the whole case; Scheler had serious injured me; I neither
    assaulted Scheler nor sexually assaulted Gabriele Scheler, and thus I am sure
    there is no grounds/motivation/evidence would support Gabriele Scheler’s
    accusation of ‘sexual assault’;

    Stanford police report clearly stated I am a victim while
    Gabriele Scheler is a criminal suspect, after serious police investigation in
    2004; those officers ZZZ/YYY/VVV who ruled against me on Scheler’s ‘sexual assault’
    accusation had hided their testimony and evidence along with their real
    identities from me and they had never interviewed me, while framing me in my
    daily life to make up evidence trying to further terrorize me from pursuing the
    case further; they would keep the case in murky status for ever, so that they
    could cover up their crimes in the past while applying retaliation on victim as
    I am for ever; — a clear case of miscarriage of justice;

  • PeterCaoLaser

    Q&A of flaws in the handling of Stanford
    student May Zhou’s death by certain police officers, which
    served a big role in a series of fascism crimes, in
    response to Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun’s side of their argues at [iDOTdoubtDOTit/tag/sebastian-thrun/]


    “Dr. Kelly Arthur of the Sonoma County
    coroner’s office, is reported to have reviewed it and said she stood by her
    original finding that there were not any signs of trauma.” — that still
    would not gurantee a suicide conclusion, would it? where/when/how did those
    trauma come into being, then? Can Dr. Kelly Arthur explain? or would it be
    wiser for the officer who drew conclusion of suicide to make sure
    where/when/how did those trauma come into being before drawing conclusion of


    “Except Peter Cao, who asserts that Mengyao Zhou
    was murdered by or with the

    help of Schmidt and Thrun, in order to intimidate him personally.” — Schmidt
    did threatened my life with the death of May Zhou for sake of Thrun during
    their fight with Stanford. I said they killed May Zhou to intimidate me and to
    terrorize Stanford; you omitted the serious part. My statement is far more
    reasonable than police can give, don’t you agree?


    and an email that Zhou sent to her 16-year-old sister as “consistent with a
    goodbye note.”

    — can we see such an email before we could believe it? How much good-bye is
    there in it? How to explain the fact that May Zhou had transferred money to pay
    off debt before her disappearance?


    “But then you can’t expect someone killing
    themselves to make choices that appear rational to others. If it’s not
    tasteless to speculate, perhaps she felt ashamed and wanted to hide herself.”

    — Is that the way you describe death of an
    innocent girl as May Zhou is? Shame on you!

    — Would the officer in charge of May Zhou’s
    case agree? How to get connect with such an officer? I have serious stuff to

  • PeterCaoLaser

    “no formal charges were ever brought.”

    ——— ZZZ/YYY/VVV did not bring formal charges on Gabriele Scheler’s
    accusation of ‘sexual assault’ on me, not because they have any mercy on me,
    but because they dare not show me their testimony/evidence and clarify the case
    with confrontation;

    At first, there are
    malicious officers in the judicial system who had threatened me with Gabriele
    Scheler’s recanted testimony for sexual assault, I never compromise to them in
    this regard; I always insist that they need to show me their testimony and
    evidence and we have to clarify the case at authorities with confrontation;
    They had then gone to terrorize Stanford, my innocent friends and relatives by
    posing to charge me; when I told them (e.g. ZZZ/YYY/VVV) to bring them on directly
    to me, they never dare; For years I have publicly challenged those malicious
    officers to bring on details of their accusations directly to me all the time,
    but they never did; what they actually do is to make up a case to curse me and to
    intimidate me, and to prevent the case from being clarified, so that they could
    continue their crime of collateral with those in this fascism circle to
    conspire victims (e.g. Stanford, Google, May Zhou, and me); — ZZZ/YYY/VVV are
    abusing their judicial power to cover up real crimes from this fascism circle with
    miscarriage of justice

  • PeterCaoLaser

    The problem with Gabriele Scheler’s campus atrocity case [Stanford
    Police Case Number: IR #04-111-0335;Victim: Peter Cao; Criminal Suspect: Gabriele
    Scheler] is that Gabriele Scheler’s side
    had recanted their testimony after Stanford police investigation in 2004; there
    are certain malicious officers (e.g. ZZZ mentioned above) who chose to stand on
    this criminal suspect Gabriele Scheler’s side and collateralled with Scheler to
    conspire victims(e.g. Stanford, May Zhou, me, and later on Google as well) in
    order to cover up their crimes while applying retaliation on victims, but
    Scheler’s side dare never show me any of their evidence nor testimony (mine
    were post on the web) which they used to molest victims for years, and most of
    all, such malicious officers do not want to see this case from being clarified

    But without clarification of this case, more and more retaliatory
    crimes were committed from Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler’s
    side, which is highlighted by the killing of this innocent Stanford student May
    Zhou and an unsuccessful plotted murder on me, and I bet more would come if
    this case remain unclarified as it is now

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide