Citing “sources at Google familiar with its mapping plans,” the UK Guardian website reports what amounts to anxiety that Google’s forthcoming mapping app will not be approved by Apple:
Sources at Google familiar with its mapping plans say they are “not optimistic” that Apple will ever approve a dedicated Google Maps iOS app. Though the app is reportedly in development and should be ready to ship by the end of the year, the sources say their plans are only proceeding in “the unlikely event” that Apple will choose to approve the app.
Although any user can bookmark a page on the Safari browser linking to maps.google.com, many have been hoping that Apple will allow Google Maps back on the iPhone as a dedicated third-party app via the App Store. But there are doubts among some circles inside Google that such an app, when completed, would be approved by Apple.
While Apple is perhaps ambivalent about a new native Google Maps app, the Guardian’s report is probably incorrect and nothing more than a bit of nervous speculation from a small number of people inside and outside of Google.
There are numerous maps and navigation applications already approved in the iTunes Appstore. This very heavily argues in favor of the future approval of a Google Maps app. In fact if you search for “maps” in iTunes you’ll find more than 20 pages of iPhone apps (some are apps that use maps but aren’t specifically mapping apps). I stopped counting at 2,200.
People who use the Google search app for iOS and conduct any kind of local search, will see a prominent map, which then takes them to the mobile web version of Google Maps. What would Apple be preventing by blocking a Google Maps app?
Apple Maps isn’t a revenue driver for Apple in the way that Google Maps is for Google; so there’s no local search revenue to “protect.” It’s also in Apple’s long-term self-interest to give iPhone and iPad users access to the best selection of apps — including Google Maps. Indeed, a Google Maps app (with navigation) makes the iPhone more desirable for some people than without one.
In a way it would also be naive of Apple to think that by blocking a native iOS Google Maps app that people wouldn’t use the mobile web version of Google Maps. Such a move would also likely bring some “political” criticism as a nakedly anti-competitive action. Apple doesn’t really win in any way by preventing a Google Maps app.
I think in the end, the people at Apple are focused on improving their own maps. And it’s highly unlikely that they’ll block a Google Maps app for any competitive reason.